In Southeast Asia, malls are like oases—an air-conditioned retreat from the humid, tropical temperatures, where shoppers and bored youth intermingle. The malls are a nexus of retail, food and beverage (F&B), and entertainment, with everything from cinemas to supermarkets and the in-between.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic sucked these oases dry. After witnessing at least a 90% reduction in footfall during nationwide lockdowns, Southeast Asia’s mall operators were forced to innovate. They embraced technology and sped up their omnichannel retail strategies, as online platforms became the go-to destinations for everything, from essentials to exercise gear to work-from-home furniture.

Covid-19’s impact has varied across different types of malls in Southeast Asia.