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Lockdown restrictions: Retail recovery remains fragile

KUALA LUMPUR (June 12): It was reported recently that 2020 was the retail sector’s worst year since the 1987 recession but it was hoped that this year may see an improvement but alas, it has not turned out to be so, according to a report by The Edge Malaysia.

“After a series of new lockdowns introduced since the beginning of May 2021, the light of hope at the end of the retail tunnel has been turned off temporarily,” said Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) managing director Tan Hai Hsin.

Tan “cautioned” that should the current Full MCO (FMCO) be extended, another spate of store closures may be inevitable and in turn could potentially lead to a further cut in the 2021 retail growth forecast.

He revealed that up to 15% of total retail supply (at least 51,000 retail stores) will close down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Any extension of the two-week complete lockdown will damage the retail industry further. Any delay in the reopening of non-essential retailers after two weeks will lead to more closures,” explained Tan.

“(There are) more uncertainties on when the retail industry will recover! Open, close, open some, close some,” Tan told business publication, “referring to the MCO and its various iterations, as well as the flip-flop decisions on operating hours, which retailers are allowed to open, and how many people are allowed in a shop”, wrote The Edge.

“Retailers are still struggling after almost 1½ years (of dealing with the pandemic),” added Tan.

Apart from the permanent shuttering of the historical Coliseum Café on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, Tan said other recent closures include Topshop (end of June), 108 Matcha Saro from Japan at Suria KLCC, Element Fresh from China at Pavilion KL and Kechara Oasis Vegetarian Restaurant in Jaya One.

He said some retailers were already struggling and that multiple lockdowns “just led them to close permanently”.

Tan said the majority of retailers were already experiencing poor sales from May 3 to 31 during MCO 3.0 as shoppers started to stay away from enclosed places to avoid infections.

Read the full report in this week’s The Edge Malaysia

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