KUALA LUMPUR: The retail industry, which went through a sluggish nine months this year, is hoping for a recovery as the festive season and annual year-end sales take off.
This has been a shaky year for the industry which opened with a 4.4% drop in sales in the first quarter and grew by a lower-than-expected 7.5% in the second quarter, according to a report by Retail Group Malaysia.
The last quarter of the year is traditionally the strongest for the retail industry as shoppers prepare for Christmas, followed by Chinese New Year.
To aid in its recovery, vendors are finding ways to attract price-conscious consumers.
“Retailers would need to rely on their creative marketing skills as holiday shoppers will be seeking better deals because of the higher cost of living,” said Datuk Garry Chua, Malaysian Retail Chain Association president.
Chua said the association hoped to see the industry end on a high note, with an increase of between 5% and 7% in sales, compared to the early part of the year.
“The combination of festive season and tourist arrivals, especially from China, may give the sector the boost it needs,” he said.
Sunway Malls chief executive officer H.C. Chan said weak sentiments on the economy have not been a dampener to Malaysian shoppers.
“We have seen 7% or 8% higher foot traffic at Sunway Pyramid so far this year. Although the spending rate may be lower, there is always the chance of them spending,” he said.
Chan, who is also adviser to the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association, is confident that the last quarter of the year would continue to be the industry’s strongest.
A check at shopping malls in the Klang Valley found that mall operators are getting creative with their sales promotions.
Patrick So, general manager of 1 Utama shopping centre, said its reward programme to encourage more shoppers to patronise the mall has shown good results.
He said vendors have reported positive sales since the mall kicked off its Christmas campaign at the end of last month and was looking forward to a 10% increase in visitor traffic.
Robinsons marketing executive William Soon said it was expecting sales to go up during this year-end season.
“We have been actively promoting our products with 9am specials and Super Saturday,” he said, referring to discount programmes.
In Penang, outlets are also keeping their fingers crossed that the school holidays, plus the festive season, will lead to the ringing of their cash registers.
The pace seems slower but bargain hunters are still out there in view of some captivating signs showing 70% discounts
Hunza Group executive director Lily Tan said business would usually pick up in mid-December as the outlets in Gurney Paragon Mall often see a higher number of shoppers during that period.
“It is still too early to predict how business will be this year but we are expecting a good year-end sales due to the school holidays and festive season.
“The weaker ringgit has also attracted shoppers from Singapore,” she said yesterday.
Singaporean Carol Tan, 40, said she and her three friends were doing their Christmas shopping here as they could get some good bargains.
“We’ve been here for four days and we’ve been shopping every day.
“The quality of branded items is the same everywhere but with the present exchange rate, the price is simply great,” she said.
Gama, one of the oldest department stores in Penang, started its year-end sales in October.
Its sales manager Ong Lay Hoon said they had a good customer base from the middle income group.
“We have bargains of up to 70% off to attract shoppers,” she said.
Engineer Mariappan Kesavan, who was there with his family, said he was at the department store looking for year-end bargains.
“It’s a good time to shop during this period as you can get some great discounts,” said the 36-year-old who works at a hotel in Tanjung Bungah.