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This Jan 27, file pic shows members of the public wearing facemasks as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in Kuala Lumpur. - NSTP/File pic
This Jan 27, file pic shows members of the public wearing facemasks as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in Kuala Lumpur. - NSTP/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Retailers have called upon all shopping malls and shophouse owners to give tenants a six month rental rebate, from 30 to 50 per cent, from this month onwards due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The move, similar to what shopping malls and landlords in Hong Kong and Singapore had done for their tenants, will allow retailers in Malaysia to ride out the effects of the outbreak, said a joint statement from Malaysian retailers today.

The joint statement was issued by Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA), Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO), Asean Retail-Chains & Franchise Federation (ARFF) and Branding Association of Malaysia (BAM).

“Malaysia’s retail businesses has been greatly affected since the announcement of the virus outbreak, whereby not only many tourists had cancelled their travel plans,

"(It) has also proven to be a double whammy, as our very own local people (Malaysians) had become quite cautious and stay home, shying away from crowded places like shopping malls,” the statement read.

Apart from the drop in consumer traffic, the group said retail outlets also had to incur extra social responsibility costs, in the form of engaging more cleaners to clean and wipe down public areas, administration staff to take temperatures, to advise staff and customers on good hygiene practices, as well as providing more hand sanitisers at strategic locations.

As rent makes up a high proportion of retailers operational costs, this is the time that landlords need to be ‘socially responsible’ by helping traders and outlets to protect jobs as well as aid in promoting domestic consumption for the greater good of the Malaysian economy, they added.

“Many of our members had reported sales dropping by as high as 50 per cent with some expecting revenue to further drop by more than 80 per cent over the next three months,” the statement said.

Apart from reducing rental, the retailers are also appealing to landlords to offer holistic support such as flexibility to operate shorter store hours, cut down or reduce unproductive operational hours, free parking for shoppers, complimentary booking of atrium areas, and marketing support for both retailer-driven promotions and mall-wide marketing initiatives.

“Let us overcome this challenging time together. Retailers are not requesting for a long-term rental rebate or cut. We are asking for help to ride through this very difficult time,” they said.

The retailers said while there are no closures yet, many retail outlets such as food and beverage outlets are quite empty as shoppers avoid malls.

This was despite the Health Ministry's assurance that Malaysia is still at the containment stage and not at the medication stage, they said.

“We hope that businesses will bounce back in 6-8 months with the hope that the outbreak would be contained and ends soon”, the statement said.

The number of people infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus in China passed 70,000 on Monday as international experts began meetings with their Chinese counterparts on how to tackle an epidemic that has caused global concern.

The death toll also jumped to 1,765 in mainland China after 100 more people died in Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December before spreading across the country and overseas.

Singapore confirmed three more Covid-19 cases in the republic on Sunday, bringing the tally of infections to 75. All three – including a 71-year-old man – are Singaporean citizens with no recent travel history to China.

In Malaysia, there were 22 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of midnight Sunday, 15 are Chinese nationals, one American and six are Malaysians.

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