Allow us to reopen as we may go bust soon, retailers group implores

THE Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) urged the Government to allow the retail sector to resume operations immediately, under strict adhere to COVID-19 standard operating procedure (SOP).

“While we support the need to protect lives, we are concerned that the National Recovery Plan (NRP) seems to be discriminatory against the retail sector.

“It indicates that our sector will only be allowed to resume operations in September but we have been closed for five consecutive months now.

“We are worried that by then, most of us would have ceased operations for good,” its president Tan Sri William Cheng said in a statement.

Elaborating, the MRA leader said that the retail sector was dire state, having little or no revenue at all following the imposition of various kinds of movement restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

He added that it was also peculiar that the authorities also stopped certain products from being sold, as if the items attract the novel coronavirus.

“The so-called non-essential products retail sectors, which employs millions (including downstream), were not allowed to operate during the lockdowns.

“Thus, the retail economy is on the verge of collapsing, with many of the companies especially those whom we call ‘zombie retail businesses’ out there, are only living on its last few breaths as they are propped up by the minuscule e-commerce sales,” Cheng mentioned.

If the situation persists, he projected that 500,000 workers would be affected, which would exacerbate suffering an already struggling populace.

Defending the retail sector, Cheng said that they adhere strictly to the SOP set by the Health Ministry (MOH), which resulted in minimal COVID-19 infectivity coming from that side.

“Based on MOH’s data as at May 28, only 0.8% of the total positive cases came from the retail sector. With total closures since then, the figure had dipped even further.

“Since 69% of the cases are sporadic and taking place within the community itself, we urge the National Security Council (NSC) and MOH to revise its strategies and adopt a more practical and manageable solution.

“We believe mass vaccination is the key to this and the authorities should not use absolute number of cases as a threshold in setting our NRP objectives,” Cheng concluded. – July 19, 2021

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