By Cris Diaz
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The “war” among shopping malls in this trading capital of Northern Mindanao intensified with the opening on May 12 of the 15.2-hectare Shoe Mart (SM) in the city’s downtown area along Claro M. Recto Avenue.
SM now has two shopping malls here, bringing to eight the number of big shopping malls in the city, aside from S & R, a mall that offers imported products only.
Cagayan De Oro City Rep. Maximo Rodriguez said the opening of SM CDO Downtown Premier shopping mall might affect the operation or earnings of other malls in the city.
East of SM CDO Premier is the 200-hectare Limketkai Commercial Complex, which houses Robinsons Mall, Shop Wise shopping mall and other high end shops of imported goods, restaurants and food chains. The Pure Gold shopping mall is also on the eastern side of Claro M. Recto Avenue.
On the west side of Claro M. Recto Avenue are the old and reliable Gaisano Mall and the five-year-old 3.7-hectare Ayala Centrio Shopping Mall.
Further to the city’s western district are the S & R shopping center along Kauswagan Highway and the other SM Shopping Mall, a colossal building amid the sprawling landscape of high-end and middle income residential subdivisions in Upper Carmen.
Each of the mall houses various acclaimed upscale retail stores, fashion and beauty shops, pizza houses, electronics, restaurants, wet and dry markets, and food chains like McDonalds, Jollibee, Goldilocks, Kenny Rogers, Chowking and Greenwich, to name just a few.
Most people prefer to go shopping or just “window shopping” in spacious malls with wide and secure parking spaces and with coffee or food shops to hangout with fast Wi-Fi ready connections. Most Wi-Fis in shopping malls here are secured with passwords.
While the newly-opened SM CDO Premier might have everything to offer to any egocentric and impulsive shopper, its parking space is very limited. With a floor area of about eight hectares, the remaining seven hectares could be utilized for parking space and other activities.
Like any other shopping mall along Claro M. Recto Avenue, SM CDO Premier Mall is prone to flooding during the rainy season. The management said it has an underground catchment that can hold over 13,000 cubic meters of floodwater.
A trading capital with a substandard drainage system compared to other emerging cities in Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro City’s busy downtown district is susceptible to dangerous floods with currents that could sweep vehicles like what happened in the January 2017 flood.
The newly-opened SM CDO Premier joins Gaisano Mall and Ayala Centrio Mall in worrying on the effect of street flooding to their operation.
The sprawling Limketkai Commercial Center, an adjacent neighbor of SM CDO Premier has to contend with the flood waters, too.
With the entry of SM CDO Premier, it’s now a battle of strategy among the malls to win the greatest number of patrons.
During its opening Friday, SM CDO Premier offered a buy one, take one promotion on selected products. Not to be left behind, Ayala Centrio offered a certain item for PHP1.00, causing a frenzy among impulsive consumers.
A city of about 700,000 people with an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent, and with about PHP4 billion money in circulation at any time of the day, Cagayan De Oro City has become the center of commerce in Northern Mindanao.
People from the neighboring provinces of Bukidnon, Lanao Del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin and Agusan Del Norte keep Cagayan de Oro City’s shopping malls alive.
Many local businessmen believed that big-time mall owners in Manila started to show interest when Cagayan de Oro City topped the National Competitiveness Council of the Philippines (NCCP) survey, minus the cities of Makati, Cebu and Davao, with a score of 72 percent among highly competitive cities in 2012.
SM CDO Premier mall originally started construction in 2012, but the construction was withheld for about two years because the management has to deal with the “exorbitant business and real estate taxes imposed by the city government.”
With Friday’s opening of SM CDO Premier, shoppers now have a wider choice, and it is up to the mall operators how they can attract the bulk of the public.