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Philippine malls have gone from centers of daily life to all but deserted amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Kimberly Dela Cruz)
Business Spotlight

'Mini economies': Pandemic tests the Philippines' mighty malls

Retailers and consumers go digital in blow for major developers

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer | Philippines

MANILA -- When one of the world's longest Christmas celebrations kicks off in the Philippines, its shopping malls are among the first to greet the season. Vast emporiums are spruced up with garlands, bells and candy canes as early as September, while big sales fire up the country's massive consumer sector.

But this year, instead of being greeted by Santa Claus-costumed staff, shoppers face thermal scanners and bottles of hand sanitizer. Promotional placards hang side-by-side with reminders to wear face masks and face shields and maintain a safe distance from others to avoid catching the coronavirus.

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