Aidilfitri spending slashed due to Covid-19

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

UNLIKE in the previous years where spending for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration was extravagant, this year’s expenditures are slashed as fewer gatherings and limited movements are now the new norm.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association VP and Bagman Corp Sdn Bhd CEO Datuk Liew Bin said despite the excitement for the festive season, there are fewer people going out to shop compared to previous years.

“One of our members who sell clothing and fashion accessories is seeing about 50% of last year’s sales.

“At least, however, we can see sales picking up during the season as this is the time when retailers offer discounts and promotions,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

He said in comparison to the past months, crowds are picking up at landmark shopping centres such as Mid Valley Megamall and Sunway Pyramid.

“There is concern on social distancing and whether or not it is being practised as crowds are increasing, but we cannot worry too much.

“Regardless, we still do not know what will happen after the Raya season,” he said.

The lowered sales and reception in comparison to last year’s is expected.

Savills (M) Sdn Bhd retail services associate director Murli Menon said overall, the dampening effect and conservative outlook are expected to last until the end of the year.

“Overall, the dampening effect and conservative outlook will probably last for most of this year as people and businesses learn to adjust to the new normal, including activities like shopping, entertainment, wellness-related activities, social gatherings and so on.

“To a certain extent, this will also depend on how soon the medical fraternity is able to come out with a vaccine,” he said.

He added that as far as retail and consumer behaviour is concerned, the factors surrounding the Covid-19 spread are beyond the control of malls and retails.

“This leaves them with the option of only managing the new dynamics of retail and the changes in consumer behaviour that the Movement Control Order (MCO) brings.

“There is definitely a greater need to be more open to newer ways of engaging with shoppers and consumers, and to get out of the traditional ideas and strategies,” he said.

He added that this implies greater coordination and partnership between shopping malls and retailers as the changes from the MCO affect both parties.

“It is important to note that while there will be a cautious and conservative approach to spending in general, there can also be a spurt since the movement restriction has created a pent-up demand and there will be a certain segment of consumers who are eager to make up for the lost time and opportunity,” he said.

Murli added that while it may not be seen across all retail categories, some rebound in retail can be expected due to the pent-up demand.

“This, however, cannot offset the losses that have already been incurred nor can we say the retail business will be back to normal levels anytime soon,” he said.