The retail market in and around Bangkok remains robust thanks to heavy expansion of residential projects over many years, particularly along main thoroughfares.
Surachet: Catering to a growing population
Numerous roads such as Rama II and Srinakarin in Bangkok, Bang Na-Trat in Samut Prakan, Ratchaphruek in Nonthaburi and Phahon Yothin and Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok in Pathum Thani now connect these projects to neighbouring provinces.
"The population in the areas along these roads, as well as the surrounding areas, has increased steadily in recent years, and continued growth is expected in the future," said Surachet Kongcheep, the senior manager of Colliers International Thailand's research department.
These areas can attract all types of retail developers, and retailers are using developments as retail centres.
Many developers have opened retail centres along the main roads in the areas bordering the capital.
The total retail space in Bangkok is 5.78 million square metres, but it exceeds 6.4 million sq m including retail space in the provinces around Bangkok.
Some 53% (3.39 million sq m) of the total retail space in Bangkok and the surrounding area is located in the suburbs.
The suburbs east of Bangkok have more than 1.5 million sq m, while only 11% (700,000 sq m) is located in the suburbs west of Bangkok.
Although community malls are the most fashionable category in the retail market in Bangkok, hypermarkets still have a higher market share outside the capital.
This is because hypermarkets take up a lot of land, which is expensive and limited in the city, while town planning laws and related regulations also hinder large retail developments, said Mr Surachet.
Land is cheaper and more plentiful in the suburbs, so hypermarkets hold sway there.
Specialty stores such as HomePro, HomeWorks, Index Living Mall and SB Design Square have branches outside of Bangkok due to the steady increase in the residential market in these areas.
Mr Surachet added several old retail centres have renovated.
"All retail centres in Bangkok that are more than 10 years old have plans for renovation or a reallocation of their tenant mix along with adding new brands to their retail centres," he said.
This is because several recently completed retail centres have impressive designs and tenants.
"Old-fashioned retail centres need to improve themselves to become competitive," said Mr Surachet.
Larger provinces nationwide are also new targets for big developers, as are the border provinces.
These include Chiang Mai, which can attract shoppers from Laos and Myanmar, Udon Thani, which caters to customers from Laos and Vietnam, and Hat Yai for Malaysians.
As well, retailers are expanding into resort destinations around Thailand.
Convenience stores are slated to be the hot new sector in the retail business after Central Retail Corporation took over FamilyMart in Thailand.
Even though 7-Eleven has the biggest share in this sector, room for growth remains.
"Many brands are focusing on convenience stores by increasing the number of branches throughout Thailand," Mr Surachet added.