Malaysian Retailers In Dire Straits

By June Ramli

Kuala Lumpur, July 17 – Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) estimates that more than 50,000 workers in the retail sector have lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic. 
MRCA president Shirley Tay believed that the figures were rather a ‘conservative’ estimate and that more workers in the retail sector were without jobs.
“We also did a survey in the month of June asking members to revert to us on their cash flow and we found that 97 per cent of respondents had only 4.5 months of cash flow left,” Tay said in a virtual media conference held yesterday.
“Those surveyed said they introduced wage reduction and had downsized their retail operations.” 
Tay added that  91 per cent of the respondents recorded a decline in sales with 45 per cent recording more than a 30 per cent decrease.
As a result, Tay said lockdowns should be targeted and shopping malls should be allowed to operate as the rate of infection in malls was very low.
“Before entering the malls, they will check your temperature, your MySejahtera app and only then will they let you in, this is why the rate of infection in malls are lower somewhere around 0.8 per cent.”
At present, the MRCA represents 450 members which currently operates about 30,000 outlets nationwide while employing about 300,000 staff throughout their companies.
Tay said MRCA has also ramped up its efforts to train its members to use social media as a way to sell their products.
“We are hoping that the government will give more subsidies in terms of digitalisation of business operations,” she said.
By that, she means helping retailers learn the art of selling through platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok.
Meanwhile, the members of the Direct Selling Association of Malaysia (DSAM) reported a rosier outlook with many seeing growth in their sales revenue last year.
“We have 126 members in DSAM and more than half are doing well,” DSAM president Datuk Tan Chong Guan said.
He said the income for DSAM members were not affected by the lockdowns as many were selling health products that have become extremely sought after during the pandemic. 
“When the pandemic first started, a lot of people did not know when the vaccine would come and it was up to the individuals to improve their immune system and so sales of our health products increased.
“At the same time, when people were losing jobs, having salary cuts, many realise that doing direct sales from home was another way to earn an extra income.”
“In the last 12 months, more than 50 per cent to 60 per cent of the businesses of direct selling members are done online or through the phone. 
“So, definitely the online business has improved and it is creating another avenue for members to earn an income from home,” he said. 
The virtual media conference was held in response to help distressed Malaysians whose livelihood have been disrupted by the ongoing MCOs (movement control order).
Both the MRCA and DSM have joined forces to support more than 8000 families during these trying times by raising emergency funds to purchase essential food supplies for those in need. 
With the aim of raising RM500,000 from this initiative, food boxes have since been distributed by both associations to more than 10,000 families within the Klang Valley and its adjacent vicinities since July 3. 

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