Bahrain’s retail sector is stable, says Cluttons

RetailME Bureau

Bahrain’s retail sector remains healthy with rents stable in all of Manama’s main markets during the first quarter of 2016, states real estate consultancy Cluttons’ Bahrain Spring 2016 Property Market Outlook Report. That’s remarkable considering softening of residential and office markets in the Kingdom against the backdrop of an economic slowdown.

The report indicates that retail at Al Seef continues to command the highest rents at BD12.50 per sqm, representing a 4% increase over the 12 months from first quarter of 2015. Amwaj Islands follows Al Seef, with a rental increase of 33% since Q1 2015, standing at BD12 per sqm in Q1 2016.

However, stable rents suggest that the market may be approaching a supply-demand equilibrium, with the level of new entrants tailing off.

“We continue to see demand for retail across Bahrain with budgets remaining stable around the BD12 per sqm-mark. However, if supply continues to edge ahead of demand, headline rents may fall. Rents will also be impacted by the general economic slowdown that the Kingdom is facing, likely causing increased downward pressure as demand stabilises this year,” says Harry Goodson-Wickes, head of Cluttons Bahrain.

The report also indicates that the existing food and beverage (F&B) operators are amongst the most active groups in the retail market at present. The Mesk Restaurant Complex (MRC) in Adliya for instance, has been registering strong interest from F&B operators looking to take up space.

“The Kingdom’s retail sector is still perceived as being a key retail and hospitality hub for Saudi Arabia, with the weekend tourist traffic being a particularly big draw for domestic and international retailers. In addition, the government is focusing on its strategy to attract high-end tourists, which is driving an upturn in the number of five-star hotels,” shares Goodson-Wickes. “However, we believe the family market remains vastly underserved. Having said that, there are signs suggesting that developers are now seeking to target this segment as well.”