Poor first quarter sales for retailers


PETALING JAYA: Weak Chinese New Year sales and rising prices of retail goods mean another disappointing quarter for Malaysian retailers, says Retail Group Malaysia managing director Tan Hai Hsin.

He said in a report that domestic retail sales contracted 1.2% for the first quarter ended March 31 compared to the same quarter a year ago.

However, while the sales performance was worse than the 0.3% gain in the fourth quarter of 2016, it was an improvement from the 4.4% contraction in the first quarter of 2016 after taking into consideration the high base in the first quarter of 2015 when sales grew strongly in anticipation of the goods and services tax.

With regard to the weak Chinese New Year sales in the first quarter, Tan said shoppers have been careful in their spending on festive goods. This was despite the 6.6% y-o-y growth in private consumption in the first quarter, with Malaysian consumers spending more on dining out, services and internet shopping.

“Prices of retail goods continued to rise since the beginning of this year, mainly due to our weak Malaysian currency and higher fuel prices. The average pump price for RON95 during the first quarter of 2017 was also the highest since the implementation of managed float system in December 2014,” he said.

The report showed that except for the pharmacy and personal care sub-sector, all other retail sub-sectors recorded declines in their businesses during the first quarter of 2017.

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