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Malaysian retail expected to contract

Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) predicts Malaysian retail sales will contract by 3.9 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year.

The estimate is based on footfall having halved during the coronavirus outbreak, contradicting RGM’s expectation earlier this year that Malaysian retail sales could rise by 0.4 per cent.

“In the event the global coronavirus outbreak and domestic political turmoil take more than the next few months to resolve, it will further affect the retail consumption pattern in Malaysia drastically,” said Tan Hai Hsin, MD at RGM. 

He said it was unable to estimate the likely retail industry growth figure for this year while preparing the report because of the unpredictable changes of the coronavirus outbreak and the new ruling government policies.

Although shopping traffic has dropped significantly in the country, some shopping malls have remained open to the public to provide essential goods and services.

Aeon Mall’s tenants, including pharmacies, banks and POS Malaysia, will continue to operate, however, food & beverage tenants will only provide takeaway and delivery services. Aeon Retail’s outlets will also provide dedicated check-out lanes for senior citizens, the disabled and pregnant women to ensure that they can shop for their daily needs in “a safe and worry-free environment”, the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 1 Utama Shopping Centre said on its social media that its essential service tenants such as supermarkets, pharmacies or convenience stores will remain open, and reassured consumers that there is no need to start panic shopping.

In the final quarter of last year, Malaysia’s retail sales increased 3.8 per cent year on year with the best growth in the pharmacy and personal care categories. The worst-performing sector was supermarkets and hypermarkets which witnessed a 2.8-per-cent full-year decline.

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