PETALING JAYA: For retailers, the first rays of sunshine have finally broken through the dark clouds. With the easing of restrictions and two festivals around the corner, they are looking forward to a boost in sales they have not seen in two years.
Deepavali is barely three weeks away and after that, the Christmas sale will be back in full swing.
Malaysian Retail Association deputy president Raymond Teo is optimistic that shoppers would be eager to spend.
“The pent-up (fervour) would be released now that restrictions have been lifted. We expect to see a surge in festive shopping,” he told theSun.
“Brick-and-mortar businesses that were badly hit last year will benefit from the easing of restrictions.”
Teo added that with a decline in the number of Covid-19 infections and more people returning to work, there would be a rise in retail spending.
He is also hopeful that sales this year would match pre-pandemic levels.
“This will finally give us a breather, and see profits as opposed to the huge losses incurred during the lockdown.”
He said retailers and vendors will take the opportunity to clear their huge inventories from the lockdown period, with aggressive promotional campaigns to woo shoppers.
Teo believes that while online shopping would continue to be popular, physical stores would be the preferred shopping experience.
“I think online shopping will co-exist with brick-and-mortar shopping in the long term,” he added.
Malaysian Retail Chain Association president Shirley Tay said just like shoppers, diners would also come out in droves.
She said with the loosening of standard operating procedures (SOP), there would be a surge in retail spending in the last quarter of the year.
“Brick-and-mortar businesses that are still in operation will take the opportunity to recover from their losses.”
Retailers have also learned a valuable lesson from the pandemic. Rather than wait for shoppers to visit their stores, many have tweaked their businesses to include an online store.
As it has been in previous years, Tay expects retailers to aggressively promote sales as the festive shopping period approaches.
“They will likely work harder than ever. We can expect to see bigger discounts or more generous gifts being handed out to shoppers.
“This will enable retailers to sell stocks that they still have due to poor sales during the lockdown,” Tay added.
She said takeaway sales at eateries would remain good, and coupled with delivery services, public spending in this area has actually been quite high.
“We have had a bad year with a long period of low sales. We are just hopeful that we can rebuild our cash flow, reduce stocks and address our debt situation.”
Tay added that while retailers are gearing up for the festive season, many continue to deal with problems such as insufficient funds to pay salaries, as well as huge amounts of unsold stock.
To add to the challenges, the authorities have been visiting their outlets to ensure compliance with the SOP and to check their business licences.
“This has discouraged some
brick-and-mortar operators from reopening for business.”
Tay also does not expect online shopping to lose traction.
“In fact, I believe online shopping will pick up. However, we believe that customers would still prefer to visit shopping malls or
street-front retail outlets, especially since they have been restricted from doing so in the past months.
“This is evident from the large crowds at shopping malls and restaurants since the lifting of movement restrictions recently,” she added.