Extreme sports no longer a pull factor for malls

SHOPPING malls have sprang up like mushrooms in the Klang Valley in the recent years. As a very competitive market, shopping malls have to offer shoppers more than just shopping and dining experience.

Thus, malls have evolved over the years to provide patrons, especially thrill-seeking millennials with activities such as extreme sports.  

1 Utama Shopping Centre (1U) – the biggest shopping mall in Malaysia with a built-up area of 5.6 million square feet– started to partner with sports operators to offer non-shopping activities such as futsal, rock climbing, paintball and scuba diving.

In 2018, 1 Utama brought in two sports tourism activities – FlowRider (a hybrid board sport combining the techniques of surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding and skimboarding) and AirRider (an indoor skydiving wind tunnel for simulated sky diving).

This RM25 mil project – a joint venture between Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd, the operator of 1U, and skydiving facility company, Indoor Skydive Australia Group (ISAG) – has enabled 1U to become the first mall in the country to have a skydiving wind tunnel stimulator.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought most business activities in Malaysia to a stand-still at one point. When the movement control order (MCO) was implemented in March, many businesses halted and people were not allowed to leave their homes.

Even when the conditional movement control (CMCO) and recovery movement control order (RMCO) came to place after that, more and more businesses were forced to cease operations.

Shopping malls in Malaysia – the popular hangout places especially during the weekends – were badly affected by the pandemic. The once-bustling malls became ghost towns.

Sports activities were not allowed during MCO. Frustrated from being home-bound, Malaysians are setting up their own gyms at home and the demand for fitness equipment has been on the rise since MCO.

Despite some sporting activities are now being allowed during the CMCO and RMCO by adhering to the standard operating procedure (SOP) that has been established, people are still cautious of engaging in sports activities outside of their home.

Extreme sports have a big potential to take off in Malaysia. However, with the current situation, extreme sports in the malls will have to take the back seat for now. – Dec 4, 2020

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