Retail Malaysia 2016 – Growing…very slowly…

Did I buy more stuffs in 2016 versus 2015? Let’s look at just two categories which I am a shopaholic for; shoes and clothes. I did not buy any new leather shoe in 2016 but I did buy two new sports shoes and one new hiking shoe (preparation for Mount KK climb in June 2017). I did not buy a single new T-shirt but I bought 5 new long sleeve shirts for work purpose. I think I spent slightly more in 2016 versus 2016 where clothes are concerned. I could however see that most of my colleagues are using newer smartphones. Okay, it includes my wife because her Samsung smartphone ‘died.’ So, my general conclusion is that retail scene in Malaysia should not be too bad, right? Let’s look at what The Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) is saying in their 2016 retail industry report. Brief conclusions below or you can read full article here.
Q3 2016 grew only by a pathetic 1.9 percent versus 2015. Main cause was due to department store sub-sector recording disappointing sales. The results were 68 percent lower than their members’ expectations. There was however a period of growth and it was between April and June where it grew 7.5 percent.
RGM then said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is to be blamed as this came into effect in April 1 2015. It made the consumers become negative. Supermarket and hypermarket was still growing but only at 0.7 percent. (I personally disagree at such assumption, better look harder for other reasons including online sales as well which is growing by leaps and bounds. Look at departmental stores results in many other countries where online sales is growing and we would get the same idea…)   
The fashion and fashion accessories sub-sector grew by 7.6 percent versus a year ago. (Yes, I contributed here!) 
The pharmacy and personal care sub-sector enjoyed a double digit growth of 10.2% in Q3 from a year ago. In fact this was the best performing sector. (First of all, I am not so sure if I dare to buy medicine, cough syrup or even facial cream online. I am scared that it will destroy my face even make me sick. I think this sector will be safe for a long time more)
Q4 2016 is however expected to be much better. The members of Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) are positive with their expectations for a recovering quarter. In fact, the department store operators forecast a growth rate of 5.4% in Q4 2016 while the supermarket and hypermarket operators expect a growth of 4.3 percent. For the entire 2016, RGM has forecasted that the Malaysian retail industry’s sales growth rate would be 3% which is down from their earlier estimated 3.5 percent.
This year, I have started to buy more large items from online, either Lazada or 11Street. They include Air-Fryer which was at least RM100 cheaper than the electronics store I went to. I bought a new baby car seat which was RM50 cheaper. More recently, I bought a new baby electronic cradle which was not only RM80 cheaper but they gave an extra slip on fan for free. However, I would not want to buy clothing online as I prefer to wear it to feel and see it first. I think this needs to also be taken into account if not now, beginning next year. Oh yeah, lots of people were still buying stuffs in 1 Utama today when I was there. Perhaps it’s the time to buy gifts have arrived. Cheers.
written on 10 Dec 2016
Next suggested article:  Retail growing by 5.9% with celebrations   or   Higher end retail still okay? Growing 3-4%


  1. i bought a 50inch flat screen TV from for my tenants which was at least RM300 cheaper than market price

  2. Hi Charles,
    For my personal consumption, yes it’s really lower than 2015. Do you know why online stores recorded growth on sales. It’s because more people now buying online instead. They know that the price was cheaper compared to stores because of many things like lower overhead cost, no rental cost etc. Now people were adjusted to buy at a lesser price and keeps on searching to buy cheaper with the same product.
    Pharmacys growth sales are also the same. Peoples don’t want to see doctors anymore because they don’t want to pay more unless the sickness is so crucial. They opt to buy the medicine because they know that the same medicine are also sold at the nearest pharmacy and they got cured. Even the clinic’s clerk told them that the same medicine are sold there.
    Did you asked your colleagues where do they got their new smartphones? Is it from the latest promotion by the telcos. Even I got one Samsung J5 for my daughter for free when I change to their new plan. And the plan benefit me more.
    I think that habit is the new Malaysian now and that’s the way of the new bussineses.

    1. haha…im, I think you do represent the majority. 🙂 Yes, even my wife’s OPPO F1s is nearly free due to promotion by Maxis. I think online sales will only be going up up and up…. As for seeing doctor, I think still okay lah. If they are salaried workers, they can claim from the company. Yes, habit of Malaysians, agree. thanks for commenting!

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