IS Malaysia’s retail industry doing well amid market challenges and the build-up of online sales platforms?
According to Retail Group Malaysia, the local retail industry posted better-than-expected growth of 3.8 per cent in retail sales in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year.
The latest quarterly result was higher than the 3.1 per cent estimate made by members of Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) in March.
Despite a lacklustre performance during the Chinese New Year period, the local retail market was able to generate higher turnover than market expectations for the entire first quarter, said Retail Group Malaysia managing director Tan Hai Hsin.
All retail sub-sectors, except for the department store sub-sector, recorded improvement in their retail businesses during the first quarter.
Higher sales were recorded for essential goods and services, such as foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
Although the department store-cum-supermarket sub-sector achieved strong growth of 6.2 per cent during the first quarter of this year compared with the same period a year ago, overall, it performed below the estimate made by the MRA members in March.
“The department store sub-sector did not see improvement in its sale performance during the latest quarter. It increased only 0.8 per cent during the first three months of this year,” said Tan.
The supermarket and hypermarket sub-sector remained in the red, in terms of sales growth. It registered -2.3 per cent growth for the quarter.
The latest result was the worst among the retail sub-sectors, said Tan.
He said MRA members are hopeful that their businesses would improve in the second quarter.
“They projected average growth of 5.5 per cent despite the weak economic environment both internally and externally. The expected higher growth is mainly due to the Hari Raya festival which was celebrated earlier this year compared to 2018,” said Tan.
Retail Group Malaysia has raised its 2019 growth forecast for the country’s retail sales to 4.9 per cent from 4.5 per cent after considering the positive improvement in retail sales and in anticipation of stronger expansion for the second quarter.