Retail space in Phnom Penh surged four per cent to 326,000sqm in the first half of this year from 314,000sqm at the end of last year, a research report from real estate service provider CBRE Cambodia said.

The report, which was obtained by The Post on Wednesday, said the number of buildings that provide retail space increased to 23 during the period.

Broken down by category, “shopping malls” covered the most retail space at 51 per cent, followed by “shopping centres” (25 per cent), “community malls” (14 per cent) and “retail podiums” (10 per cent).

Vacancy rate stood at around 10.2 per cent as of June 30, down from 10.63 per cent on December 31.

The report lists the current average monthly prices at $28.46 per square metre at “prime shopping mall” units (down 12 per cent from the December 31 rate), $26.03 at “prime retail podium” units (down 13 per cent), $22.23 at “community mall” units (down four per cent) and $26.23 at “prime high-street” units (up one per cent).

CBRE Cambodia senior manager Kim Kinkesa told The Post on Wednesday that Covid-19 had sapped the momentum of the retail rental market, with three projects postponed early this year.

But the market situation has shown steady strides since the beginning of the second quarter, she noted.

“As Covid-19 fears subside, I am all the more optimistic that the retail rental space market will be incrementally restored to its former glory by the end of 2020,” she said.

Cambodian Estate Alliance CEA Co Ltd vice-chairman Sao Sakhom told The Post that the market had been derailed by a Covid-19-driven triple whammy of social distancing, income decline and the resulting business-crushing market saturation.

Where throngs of visitors once roamed, commercial centres and other rental locations remain unoccupied, he said.

“Nowhere is the issue of unused rental locations more severe than in the centre of the city,” Sakhom said.

But the retail rental market is likely to recover as economic growth picks up, more so after an effective vaccine against Covid-19 has been developed, he said.

CBRE Cambodia predicted that three new retail rental buildings would launch by this year’s end, adding 50,000sqm of retail space to the capital.