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Retail industry to see 1% to 3% growth

KUALA LUMPUR: The retail industry in Malaysia is expected to see a marginal growth of between one and three per cent by year-end as consumers continue to spend despite sluggish economic conditions.

Next year, the industry is expected to see growth of about 5%, said Tan Hai Hsin, managing director of Retail Group Malaysia, at a breakfast briefing here on Oct 6. He advised retail business owners to focus on promotions that provide value for money and best deals for consumers.

"Hypermarkets remain popular shopping centres and well-occupied mega shopping centres are still an attraction to shoppers," said Tan. He, however, said although the industry may grow, it did not mean that there will be no closures of retailers. This is more serious now as the (economic) crisis is somewhat taking a longer time to recover, he added.

"We have been using price discounts for the last 10 years... as an attraction to bring people in to help the retailers generate sales," said Tan. At the same time retailers are suffering from low profit margins and some are seeing negative cash flow, he said.

Currently, performance in the retail section is mixed, he said. Not all premier retailers are suffering from declining sales and not all shops selling big-ticket items are witnessing fast-declining sales, he explained. Tan also called on retail market players to take into account the new Malaysian consumers.

Retailers should adapt to shifting trends and the buying behaviour of consumers who are in the market which now offers abundant choices.

On the government's plans to introduce a goods and services tax (GST), he said now would not be the right time to implement. "At this moment, we are not ready yet, we have not done enough preparation," he said.

Educating the people on GST must be done, he added. -- Bernama

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