KUALA LUMPUR (June 6): The Malaysia retail industry recorded a below-than-expected growth rate of 2.6% in retail sales for the first quarter of 2018, according to the Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA).

In a statement today, MRA said despite the poor performance recorded a year ago (-1.2% in 1Q2017), the Malaysian retail market remained subdued early this year.

“Shoppers were still careful in their spending on festive goods during the Chinese New Year period,” it said.

On the next three months’ forecast, MRA said it is hopeful that businesses will recover by the second quarter of 2018.

It projected an average growth rate of 6%.

“The change in ruling party after the general election on May 9 is expected to boost consumers' confidence level and increase their willingness to spend.

“At the same time, the largest festival in Malaysia, Hari Raya, will be celebrated in June this year,” it said.

Commenting on the outlook for the second half of 2018, MRA said Retail Group Malaysia has adjusted the second quarter retail growth rate from 3.7% (estimated in March 2018) to 6.3%.

It said this revision is also higher than the latest projection made by MRA members.

“This new estimate took into consideration the tax holiday during the last month (June) of second quarter as well as Hari Raya celebration at the middle of June 2018.

“Many retailers, large and small throughout the country, have taken this once-in-a-life-time opportunity to offer great discounts to attract shoppers to buy.

“Higher expenditure from tourists, including Singaporeans, is also expected during this period,” it said.

MRA said based on the latest quarterly adjustments, the projected retail sale growth rate of Malaysian retail industry in 2018 by Retail Group Malaysia has been revised upwards from 4.7% (estimated in March 2018) to 5.3%. — theedgemarkets.com

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