Retail industry resumes biz, expects slow recovery

MRCA welcomes the govt’s move to lift the MCO as the industry has been facing an enormous setback over the past few months


THE retail industry is pumped at the prospect of resuming operations, as nearly all economic sectors and business activities woke up to a new normal under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) yesterday.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) VP Datuk Liew Bin said the association welcomes the government’s move to lift the MCO as the industry has been facing an enormous setback over the past few months.

“We have to resume businesses anyhow, as the virus is expected to be here in our community for at least one or two years. So, the focus now is on how we start operating under the new normal,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in a phone interview yesterday.

He added that the retail industry is expecting a slow recovery towards the end of the year and businesses must follow the necessary safety and health guidelines to prevent a new wave of Covid-19 hitting Malaysia.

“We are not expecting much for now as we have just started. Currently, most retailers are in the primary stage of cleaning and sanitising their premises and warehouses. It’s time for them to warm up first. We will see how it goes in a few weeks’ time.

“In the long run, we can expect that businesses will start to grow and pick up in sales within three to six months,” he said.

Liew is confident that the overall sales for the retail industry will be better following the government’s easing in travel restrictions for people.

He noted that currently, around 50% of the retail segment has returned to normal operations, with the other half waiting for further notice from their respective state governments to resume businesses.

On May 1, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that most business sectors will be allowed to operate with some restrictions and limitations under the implementation of the CMCO.

The National Security Council (NSC) has also provided the standard operating procedure (SOP) on how businesses will operate amid the pandemic.

With that, most shopping malls in the Klang Valley have resumed its businesses and taken the responsibility of prevention by following the necessary SOP and health guidelines.

Sunway Pyramid announced via its Facebook that all Sunway malls would be reopened yesterday.

The malls will operate between 10am to 10pm, and its shops (except for those in the essential category) have been granted the flexibility to open a minimum of eight hours per day.

It added that visitors will be seeing most stores in operation, except for cinemas, karaoke centres, hair salons, beauty salons and indoor sports (including gym), which will remain closed.

Meanwhile, 1 Utama Shopping Centre also announced on Facebook yesterday that most of its retail shops, services, and food and beverage (F&B) are back in operation from 10am to 10pm.

“As per the CMCO, cinemas, gyms, karaoke, hair and beauty salons are required to remain closed. Surau and changing rooms too. F&B outlets are for takeaways and deliveries only. Strictly no dine-in,” it said.

It added that thermal scanning will be conducted at entrances for all visitors, while complimentary sanitisers are available throughout the mall for convenience.

Previously, the Retail Group Malaysia said the country’s retail industry is expected to suffer a negative growth rate for the first time in 22 years due to Covid-19.

The group estimated that retail sales in Malaysia could see growth rates of -18.8% and -9.3% in the first quarter (1Q) and 2Q of 2020.

For the whole year, Malaysia’s retail industry is projected to suffer a decline in sales by -5.5% compared to last year.