Categories: BusinessNews

Businesses expect dwindling consumer confidence

Govt urged to help lower cost of self-test kits as all staff present at work premises must take RTK antigen test on a fortnightly basis


BUSINESS operators across industries are eager to reopen, but fear a drop in confidence among consumers due to skyrocketing daily new Covid-19 cases as well as political uncertainties.

SME Association of Malaysia national VP Chin Chee Seong said despite the green light for 11 economic sectors to reopen in Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan, he expects only 10% to 20% of customers returning to these businesses.

“Besides that, bi-weekly swab tests for manufacturing operators will be costly. RM25 per Covid-19 self-test kit is a heavy cost for businesses at the moment, but we have no choice since customers demand it.

“The government should help lower the cost of the test kits, but now with no absolute power of a prime minister and government, this will be an issue,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

According to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, manufacturing operators must ensure that all staff present at work premises take the RTK antigen test approved by the Ministry of Health every two weeks.

Among the businesses that are allowed to resume operations in Phase 1 are car washes, car distribution and sales centres, jewellery stores, barber shops and beauty centres/salons.

Chin said the majority of businesses that are allowed to open have been suffering for a long time and they must do their best to reopen.

He stressed the importance of convincing vaccine-hesitant people on the importance of vaccination to not only build herd immunity against Covid-19, but also to increase consumer spending.

Sharing Chin’s sentiments, Proton Edar Dealers Association Malaysia president Liew Vee Lee also believes customers still would not be comfortable coming into the showroom.

Liew is confused by the government’s rule that customers must be fully vaccinated, but does not mention whether the same is required for retail or showroom employees.

“Social media platforms will remain the main tool for marketing, while the showroom will be the final stage of customers coming in to purchase the product,” he opined.

“To protect all workers and customers, we need to purchase a lot of sanitising solutions and test kits for our staff more frequently to ensure we work in a safe environment,” he told TMR.

Liew said monitoring the digital vaccination certificates would not be an issue because the walk-in rate for car showrooms is not that high, so the staff can easily check each customer’s MySejahtera status.

Meanwhile, Federation of Motor and Credit Companies Associations of Malaysia president Datuk Tony Khor Chong Boon said the only concern now will be the dynamic changes in standard operating procedures (SOPs) which he hopes would not occur.

“The authorities must also enforce their interpretations of the current SOPs consistently and fairly, instead of imposing ‘unnecessary fines’ upon our members. This happened in the past where we faced various types of SOP interpretations by different authorities.

“Our members are ready to open their showrooms. The plus factor for us is that most of our members’ showrooms, except for new vehicle dealers, are more of the ‘sale yards’ concept and are in an open-air environment with good ventilations, minimising potential virus spread. In fact, we are also encouraging our members to serve their customers at open air showrooms, wherever possible,” he told TMR.

Khor said the MySejahtera app is a very good tool where every customer entering business premises must show us their digital vaccination certificates.

“Our members have been told to diligently read and understand those digital certificates, ensuring that customers meet the 14-day post-vaccination requirement.

“We are also reiterating to our members the importance of re-sanitising each and every car that is being test-driven.

“Preferably, test-drives should be done with open windows and testing the car’s air-conditioning can be done in idle mode.”

Khor said there will still be customers during the pandemic because with many sectors opening up and people returning to their workplaces, they would prefer their own vehicles and avoid crowded public transportations.

“Another positive factor will be that customers, those who may have fully or partially settled their car loans, may want to trade-in for a smaller or cheaper car to ease their cashflows or their monthly financial commitments.”


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