Retailers expect retail sales in Malaysia to close the year with a 4%–5% growth in 2015.
The Malaysian Retail Association (MRA) deputy president James Loke said the retail sales growth is helped by the influx of tourists from neighbouring countries such as Singapore and the Middle East taking advantage of the weaker ringgit.
Loke said the growth forecast would have been higher, but retail sales have been impacted by as much as 20% following the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) on April 1.
"It (GST) caused confusion among retailers immediately following the implementation," he told a press conference prior to the association's 33rd annual dinner today.
In July, MRA had revised its projected retail growth for this year for the third time, from 4.9% to 4% as consumers choose to hold back their spending due to the higher cost of living, the weak ringgit and the rising cost of doing business.
MRA honorary secretary Datuk Seri Meer Sadik Habib pointed out that the tourist influx only affected certain retailers and reminded that in the first quarter of 2015, the retail industry saw an encouraging growth rate of 4.6% in retail sales.
"The first quarter was a very good quarter because the public rushed to stock up before GST kicks in. However, touching on the tourist receipts, not everyone experienced the influx.
"Our members are widely spread throughout the nation. Not all of our members received good returns due to the weakened ringgit. The importers are badly affected," said Meer Sadik.
Meanwhile, MRA president Tan Sri William Cheng announced that Malaysia will host the 18th Asia-Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibition in October 2017.
One of the world's biggest retail convention, it will see around 3,000 delegates from Asia-Pacific and Europe attending. The 2015 convention recently concluded in Manila, the Philippines. – The Edge Markets, November 27, 2015.