Bangkok's booming suburbs are fast becoming the new retail hot spots

The major thoroughfares into the city, with their huge catchment areas, are the perfect locations for mega-malls and retail parks

The retail market in suburban Bangkok has grown in line with the outward expansion of residential development and major roads. Retail developments located along key roads _ Rama II, Srinakarin, Bang Na, Ratchaphruek, Phahon Yothin and the Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road in Pathum Thani _ have the potential to thrive. They can draw customers from their immediate surrounding areas as well as inner-city residents looking for something different, and also customers from provinces linked by these roads to the capital. The four most fashionable areas for retail development are as follows:

RANGSIT-NAKHON NAYOK ROAD

The area along Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road, and another small connected road is the most popular area for residential projects. Some date back 10 years or more, but there is still room for expansion.

Future Park Rangsit, the biggest mall in the area, is located at the intersection of Phahon Yothin and Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok roads. It has enjoyed continuous growth and the developer plans another Future Park Rangsit in the same area, valued at three billion baht with a 2013 start date expected.

The Big C and Tesco Lotus hypermarket models also are prominent along the two main roads. Tesco Lotus has also attempted to attract more customers by opening smaller Tesco Lotus Express stores in surrounding neighbourhoods.

The owner of Zeer Rangsit has changed its identity from a shopping mall to the largest IT centre in Pathum Thani. Merry Kings Rangsit, meanwhile, has been acquired by the owner of Bo Bae Tower and will become the Bo Bae Rangsit wholesale mall, linked to Zeer Rangsit by an overpass. This area will become a new shopping magnet.

In addition, Central Pattana Plc (CPN) has bought a large plot of land from Apex Riverside Co Ltd, which originally acquired the 616-rai plot on Phahon Yothin Road from Thai Asset Management Corp. At the site, located close to the BTS Red Line extension, CPN and Apex Riverside aim to jointly develop a large-scale shopping mall as a central point for transport from Bangkok to the North and Northeast.

RATCHAPHRUEK ROAD

Since it opened in 2002, Ratchaphruek Road has become a favoured location for residential projects, especially high-end and luxury housing, because it is connected to the city, suburban Bangkok and Nonthaburi province.

The high number of housing projects and the huge number of cars that use this road every day are a great attraction to retail developers, and some community malls have opened along this road. They include The Circle Ratchaphruek, characterised by its European style and colourful buildings. The Walk Ratchaphruek, by Index Living Mall, has become a new social magnet with its Santa Monica Village style, and many restaurants within a total space of more than 20,000 square metres, including an Index outlet.

In addition, HomePro and HomeWorks have opened stores on this road, and some housing developers plan community malls in front of their housing projects, similar to the opening of Pure Place Ratchaphruek in May, 2012. The retail centres in the area tend to have more high-end shops compared with other suburban areas, reflecting the relative affluence of residents in the area.

RAMA II ROAD

An 18-lane road that connects Bangkok with the southern part of Thailand, Rama II is also connected to the expressway, thereby offering convenience to people who work in the city area, as well as convenient links to Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan via the Outer Ring Road. Housing development has been expanding steadily on roads and sois off Rama II for more than a decade.

The largest shopping mall on this road is CentralPlaza Rama II, while Big C and Tesco Lotus also have a presence. Many high-end housing projects are located around CentralPlaza, Big C Supercentre and Tesco Lotus.

The area on the western part of the Outer Ring Road is the newest area for residential projects, with a large number of vacant plots available for new development. The most recent lifestyle mall by D Land Group, Porto Chino, is located on Rama II Road kilometre 25, in front of the housing project.

SRINAKARIN AND BANG NA-TRAT ROADS

Both sides along Bang Na-Trat Road include small roads and sois with a high concentration of established residential developments, with house prices ranging from one million to 20 million baht. This area has gained great prominence since the opening last year of Megabangna, by Siam Future Development Plc and its big anchor partners _ Major Cineplex, HomePro, Big C, Robinson and Ikea _ covering a total area of 400,000 sq m. SB Design Square and Index Living Mall also have large new outlets nearby, while Central Bangna, Tesco Lotus and Big C are well established.

On Srinakarin Road, Seacon Square and Paradise Park combined have more than 250,000 sq m of lettable space. Even though Seacon Square has been open for more than 20 years, it still thrives as a modern retail centre. Siam Piwat and MBK Group acquired Seri Centre and, following a full-scale redevelopment, Paradise Park was launched in 2010.

The community mall remains the most fashionable retail model for the area, an example being Thanya Shopping Park which opened in November on Srinakarin Road. Also in the pipeline is a major new shopping centre planned by The Mall Group at the Bang Na intersection.

The history of the Bangkok retail market has shown continual growth with many new retail centres added, especially community and lifestyle malls. Hypermarkets and full-sized shopping malls are becoming harder to develop as zoning regulations reduce land availability and push up costs. In addition, some retail developers are becoming more focused elsewhere, especially major city centres and bordering provinces.


Surachet Kongcheep is senior manager of research at Colliers International Thailand. He can be reached at surachet.kongcheep@colliers.com.

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Writer: Surachet Kongcheep