With a pandemic, online sales surpass that of shopping centers

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Ahead of schedule and with a push from the pandemic, e-commerce sales surpassed those of shopping malls in Brazil.

According to a study by the manager Canuma Capital, last year, online sales reached BRL 260 billion, an increase of BRL 160 billion compared to 2019, before the pandemic.

At the other end, malls earned approximately BRL 190 billion in 2019 and the forecast is that they will have closed 2021 at BRL 175 billion, considering the same stores, according to the study.

The data, however, according to the manager, do not show a trend towards the loss of relevance of shopping malls in Brazilian retail – there are around 600 units in operation in the country. a process already underway.

Glauco Humai, president of Abrasce, an association that represents shopping malls in Brazil, said he sees the advance of e-commerce neutrally, but believes that it is not possible to say how much of the online sales came from the structure of the malls itself – whether a sale made by the WhatsApp or through the retailer’s own digital platform.

Other than that, physical stores also work as a showcase for the products and are thus part of the sales journey, he says. “It is increasingly difficult to separate what is online sales from offline”, he says. The executive points out that the shopping malls’ bet, which comes before the pandemic, includes the convergence of sales channels.

“Everyone is moving towards multichannel”, he says. According to him, proof of this is the movement of digital native retail opening physical points – many of them in shopping malls.

According to Humai, the purchase itself has now become a commodity, something that has already made the malls adjust to be service centers and facilitators for the purchase by the customer. “And, in the pandemic, the value of the physical point, for customer contact with the brand and product, became even more evident.”


For the survey carried out by Canuma Capital, data from publicly traded groups, including e-commerce companies, information on malls invested by real estate funds, data from associations and the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), explains Marcelo Vainstein, partner from Canuma and former director of Brookfield Property Group.

Today, Canuma, which invests globally, does not have investments in malls in Brazil in its portfolio, only in the United States.

“Malls will have to reinvent themselves to have the same revenue per square meter”, assesses Vainstein. He points out, however, that e-commerce penetration is not homogeneous in all regions of the country and, therefore, depending on the area, many malls suffer less from this competitive effect.

He points out that the impact on malls in the country was uneven and those with pre-pandemic problems suffered the most, as well as those located in places that are very dependent on offices.

The outlets exceeded all expectations and the malls that sell imported products to the high-income population performed better, as Brazilian tourists were unable to travel and bought locally.

On the other hand, highlights Vainstein, with the resumption of tourism, with the population vaccinated, the local luxury market tends to lose sales volume.


The study shows that malls lost around R$35 billion for e-commerce. In addition, shopping centers also lost another R$ 15 billion directly in the area of ​​services, with a lower flow in movie theaters and food areas, for example.

But, despite having taken away a slice of sales previously made in malls, the biggest gain from e-commerce came from high street commerce, according to the study.

Regarding the share of restricted retail, which does not include vehicle and construction material sales, e-commerce had a total share of 6.8% in 2019, and this share jumped to 12.7% in the year past.


For the specialist in the retail sector and partner at Varese Retail, Alberto Serrentino, the fact that e-commerce has surpassed mall sales is not a cause of great concern for the sector. According to him, malls are already on their way to achieving the same pre-pandemic result.

The drop in sales over the last few years, he recalls, was a direct effect of the period of tougher restrictions. In addition, according to him, e-commerce already had a higher growth rate even before the pandemic.

“When people feel safer, they go back to the mall. And that’s what we saw in the fourth quarter of 2021,” says Serrentino.

In his view, the shopping center in Brazil transcends the shopping mall, because it has become a great entertainment space, including gastronomy – and it has been exactly this segment that has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic pace, he says.

This does not mean, however, according to the expert, that malls will not have to deal with specific challenges. One of these works will continue to be the digitization process, which has already been initiated by the imposition of social restrictions.

“The big challenge is how the shopping center will be able to adhere to the new consumer journey, being a great entertainment hub. This will go through the digital transformation that simplifies the customer’s life”, he highlights.

This transformation will mean, for example, connecting the customer to a particular store in a mall, so that he can know, before going to the establishment, if a product is available.


The numbers are already beginning to reflect the resumption. One of the largest groups of shopping malls in the country, with 19 projects, Multiplan, which has Morumbi and Vila Olímpia in its portfolio, pointed out in its operating data for the last quarter of the year that the engines are hot.

In the last three months of the year, the company reported a record number in the company’s history. The growth was 8.1% compared to the same period in the previous year. The last quarter of 2021 was the first of the year with 100% of the operation in regular hours.

Same-store rent (open for more than 12 months) increased by 41.4%. Sales in stores increased by 10.3% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The information is from the newspaper The State of São Paulo.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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