PETALING JAYA: With less than a week for Chinese New Year shopping, businesses are making a desperate plea to Putrajaya to review the latest SOP to ensure a win-win situation.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which make up the bulk of the economy in Malaysia, claim that they may be making a total daily loss of more than RM120mil in seasonal goods.
United Industries MCO2.0, a group of 44 trade associations representing more than a million SMEs, said besides Hari Raya, Chinese New Year was the festival with the biggest expenditure over a very short period.
The group coordinators, Datuk David Gurupatham and Datuk Irwin Cheong, said many had stocked up using borrowed money after anticipating that businesses would be able to open with strict SOP during Chinese New Year.
“Many borrowed money to buy stocks, stocked up on perishables and engaged workers in anticipation of trading or offering services during this Chinese New Year period.
“They spent on advertising and other similar costs.
“Many have ordered stock from overseas months ago that now cannot be sold.
“Among the reasons are that New Year celebrations have themes around Lunar Year characters.
“This affects traders and businesses regardless of ethnicity and size as the economy is a complex ecosystem.
“Restrictions imposed on families, reunion dinners, company annual dinners and others affect every one from poultry farmers to restaurants.
“We have a very short window. We still have an opportunity.
“Please allow as many businesses as possible to take advantage of Chinese New Year celebrations with due SOP, ” they said.
Earlier, a joint statement by various businesses urged the government to allow all businesses to open, especially those in the apparel, fashion accessories and garment industries.
“Seasonal stock has a shelf life of less than one week to go.
“These goods will have to be written off with huge losses, estimated at RM120mil per day.
“With 500,000 jobs at stake, this will lead to unnecessary and even more casualties of business.
“During the MCO in 2020, there was the risk of trying out clothes but this has since been resolved with the undertaking that all clothes tried have to be steam cleaned and the changing rooms sanitised after each use.
“We have been left in confusion as to why this formula cannot be reimplemented, ” said the statement.
Malaysian Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said businesses should be allowed to mitigate their losses by getting rid of stock at huge discounts.
“Closing the apparel sector prior to Chinese New Year is disastrous for retailers and shopping malls.
“Chinese New Year clothing is usually seasonal for the zodiac animal year.
“This year is the Year of the Ox and many of the designs are ‘ox-centric’.
“Similar zodiac animal signs come only once every 12 years so it cannot be sold until this rolls around again.
“So, it will need to be written off or ‘burnt’.
“For other non-‘ox-centric’ merchandise, once they have been displayed for sale this year, nobody will buy ‘past season goods’, ” said Teo.
Malaysia Retailers Chain Association (MRCA) said retail chain stores might have no channel to flush out their seasonal stock.
“The SOP on retail chains need to be practical and effective.
“We urge that the measures announced are made after consultation with the industry players themselves.
“We are willing to work hard to ensure the SOP is followed meticulously.
“The seasonal stock, which many may have paid cash in advance to get huge discounts on bulk orders, is now ring-fenced by the SOP, ” said MRCA secretary-general Stan Singh.
MRCA council member Afendi Dahlan said the propensity of spending at retail stores during the Chinese New Year period was higher than other occasions.
“Traditionally, this festival is when the Chinese would take a long break, travel and spend, which then creates a cycle in the economy. That is now much lessened.
“Certain SOP cannot be used on different retail sectors.
“Most businesses already have good practices which the authorities can make use of and follow through, ” said Afendi.
Meanwhile, Bernama quoted Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexandar Nanta Linggi as saying that discussions to allow business sectors that could not yet operate were underway with the National Security Council.
He said the ministry would like all business sectors yet to resume operations to be allowed to open, provided that they agree to comply with the highest level of SOP.
“The ministry is very concerned and listens to the appeals of various business sectors asking for permission to operate.
“It understands the need to open all business sectors because the economy is essential, provided that both traders and consumers fully adhere to the SOP for the movement control order to curb the spread of Covid-19, ” he said in a statement yesterday.
He said among the business sectors still not allowed to operate were clothing, sports merchandise, household, kitchen appliances and cosmetics.
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