KUALA LUMPUR (June 9): Last year had been the worst period for retailers in Malaysia since 1987.

In Malaysia Retail Industry Report for June 2021 compiled by Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) and released today, it said after tentative signs of retail recovery since end of last year, the hope for recovery this year was completely dashed recently when daily confirmed Covid-19 cases jumped to historical highs.

It said many retailers in Malaysia were hit hard when people avoided going to enclosed places such as shopping malls.

RGM said after a series of new lockdowns have been introduced since beginning of May 2021, the light of hope at the end of the retail tunnel has been turned off temporarily.

It said members of Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) and Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) were interviewed on their retail sales performances for the first half-year of 2021.

RGM said the second quarter estimates (by members of MRA and MRCA) published in this report under 'Next 3 Months' Forecast' were made before the announcements of movement control order (MCO) 3.0 and FMCO.

Therefore, it said their projections are no longer accurate.

“New forecasts cannot be made at this current time due to the uncertainties in the covid-19 developments and lockdown restrictions within Malaysia,” it said.

For the first quarter of 2021, the Malaysian retail industry recorded a negative growth rate of 9.9% in retail sales, as compared to the same period in 2020.

RGM said this latest quarterly result was better than the estimate made by members of MRA and MRCA at -13.4% in March 2021.

It said more retail businesses were allowed to open in stages from Feb 5, 2021.

It said shopping traffic recovered when MCO 2.0 ended on 5 March this year.

Shopping malls in all major cities received large crowds on the first weekend after MCO 2.0 was lifted.

Some tourist areas had also received good crowd during the weekends, it said.

RGM said that for the first quarter of 2021, the Malaysian economy recorded a contraction of 0.5%, as compared to -9.9% for retail sales.

It said the high demand for export products, especially E&E products, contributed to the economic growth during this quarter.

The relaxation of movement control order since February also led to higher domestic demand for goods and services.

RGM said after 3 consecutive quarters of declines, the average inflation rate during the first quarter of 2021 turned positive at 0.5%.

During the quarter, Malaysian consumers were faced with higher prices of Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (1.5%) as well as Miscellaneous Goods & Services (1.5%).

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