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Total outlet sales for 1Q 2020 is lower by RMB 671.5 million or 55.7% as compared to 1Q 2019 due to the temporary closure of all 4 outlet malls for 44 to 49 days, from end January to mid-March 2020, as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of COVID-19 virus in China.
While the temporary mall closure has led to lower sales by 55.7%, drop in EMA rental income (excluding straight-line adjustment) for 1Q 2020 is only lower by 17.1% or RMB 26.2 million, due to the fixed component of EMA rental income from the Sponsor in accordance with the Entrusted Management Agreement (EMA). In SGD terms, EMA rental income (excluding straight-line adjustment) for 1Q 2020 is lower by S$5.6 million or 18.2%, partly due to the weakening of RMB against SGD by 1.4% comparing 1Q 2020 to 1Q 2019.
The decrease in Manager’s base fees by S$0.4 million is due to lower distributable income.
Finance costs for 1Q 2020 of S$6.9 million is slightly lower than 1Q 2019 by S$0.1 million. This is mainly due to lower onshore term loan quantum in this quarter compared to same quarter last year.
Tax expense for 1Q 2020 was S$2.1 million or 41.6% lower than 1Q 2019, in line with lower operating profit due to lower sales and EMA rental income.
As a result of the above, amount available for distribution to Unitholders for 1Q 2020 was S$16.0 million, 18.7% lower as compared to S$19.7 million for 1Q 2019.
China’s gross domestic product (“GDP”) was RMB 20,650.4 billion from January to March of 2020, a year-on-year decrease of 6.8%1 at constant prices. This was mainly attributed to the shut-down of the country after the outbreak of coronavirus. The industrial, retail and fixed asset investment sectors were affected more than other sectors. Total retail sales of consumer goods was RMB 5,213 billion, a decrease of 20.5% year-on-year.
The contraction in the first quarter is the first decline since 1992, when official quarterly GDP records started2.The People’ Bank of China (PBoC) had since injected approximately RMB 4 trillion into the economy, which is equivalent to 4%3 of GDP. Such steps provided much needed liquidity to the economy.
For the first quarter of 2020, no new outlets opened for business. We expect to see two conventional malls opening for business in the second half of the year. Significant projects4 under construction include the MixC in Dadukou submarket and Jinsha Paradise walk in Shapingba submarket. The GFA is 70,000 sqm and 210,000 sqm respectively. Sasseur Chongqing Outlets re-opened on 15 March 2020, achieving sales volume increase of 132% versus the same day last year. As for Sasseur Bishan Outlets, which also re-opened on 15 March 2020, it achieved a sales volume increase of 228% higher versus the same day last year.
For 1Q 2020, no new outlet malls were opened in Hefei. The Hefei Outlets re-opened on 13 March 2020, achieving a sales figure which was 57% higher than the same day last year.
For 1Q 2020, there were no new outlets. Our Sasseur Kunming Outlets re-opened on 11 March 2020, achieving a sales volume which was 171% higher than the same day last year.
China has since resumed much of its economic activities compared to the rest of the world, where economic activities are largely still shut-down. We expect the recovery process in China to be gradual, and are cautiously optimistic in seeing a good rebound in consumer spending at our outlets after experiencing strong sales at the re-opening of the outlets in the middle of March 2020. The Chinese middle class which is the key consumer segment for outlet businesses, remains resilient as business for luxury goods has stayed stable.
1 National Bureau of Statistics of China
2 Reuters dated 15 April 2020
3 CBRE April Report
4 Cushman & Wakefield retail market report for Chongqing
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