It’s not to say that we have been spared by what’s happening in the US. While Malaysia is largely unaffected, the retail industry has suffered a dent. But now the road ahead looks promising with the better GDP announced.
“Our financial institutions are still awash with money in contrast to the US and the Europe; that gave a bit of confidence and stability back to the industry,” says Kevin Tan, Chief Operating Officer of Sunway Shopping Malls.
When the effects of the crisis cascaded to this part of the world he shares that the retail sales of most of their tenants slowed down tremendously. However, things took a better turn in the last quarter of 2009 where most of their tenants reported to have recovered their losses in the early quarters, he says, and those who have yet to achieve full recovery, have at least reached a break-even.
Malaysia had generated over RM1 billion per week in tourist dollars, and 28% of this tourist receipts were spent on shopping. Despite the full force promotional and marketing activity to up that percentage to 35%, Kevin sees a disintegrated campaign and a sense of lack in the concerted effort supposedly by every party from retail players to the government agencies.
Not to discount the Economic Transformation Program, he lauds the abolishment of import duty of the 300 goods as it would augur well for the industry. However, he feels that our great tourism product should be branded and marketed as a whole.
“They’ve designated KLCC and Bukit Bintang to be the vibrant shopping precinct. My point of view is that Malaysia is so big, we have so many tourism related products, why only restrict to one precinct?”
For him, such restrictive agenda would have put to waste the whole country as a great tourism product.
Not only that, Malaysia also faces aggressive rivals from regional neighbors. There’s aggressive marketing campaign and promotion from Singapore. “Just look at the papers,” he says. Admittedly, they are a great tourism product by itself, he adds, with the additional IRs.
He recalls a point in time where China tours promoted “Sing-Mal-Thai” tour packages. Now it is only Singapore and Thailand, bypassing Malaysia. That said, he calls for a more concerted effort and a tourism master planning that “cuts across race, creed, and politics.
“Tourist money that comes in does not discriminate which political party you are from. They come in and everybody will benefit from the multiplier effect.”
Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall (Expansion) is the winner of the Malaysia Property Award 2010 in the Retail Category.