Minister: Hypermarket sales not benchmark to evaluate economic growth

Shoppers browse goods in a Tesco supermarket in the Klang Valley. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Shoppers browse goods in a Tesco supermarket in the Klang Valley. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, Feb 7 — Hypermarket sales should not be the benchmark by which the country’s economy or its retail sales performance is measured, said Minister in Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

The minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit said data provided by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) showed hypermarket sales only made up 8 per cent of retail sales in the country and therefore can’t be viewed as the sole basis to gauge the performances of retail sales, the state of the economy or people’s spending power.

Abdul Rahman was responding to a statement by Mydin hypermarket managing director Ameer Ali Mydin who in a radio interview recently said the rise in gross domestic product (GDP) did not translate to more spending power among Malaysians. 

He said this was seen in the continued contraction of hypermarket sales locally.

Abdul Rahman pointed out that the number of non-specialised stores had increased from 66,920 in 2016 to 73,848 in 2017.

“This alone could be one of the reasons why hypermarkets have slower sales… consumers have more choices when it comes to shopping,” he said.

He said people are buying products such as groceries from home, thanks to the convenience of the internet, which is another reason for the slowdown in retail sales.

“Some hypermarkets here have started to offer online shopping and delivery to their customers, and those who have not ventured into the trend will lose out from the thriving online scene,” he said.

He said e-commerce transactions by businesses were valued at RM73.7 billion in 2016, according to the DOSM’s Economic Census. 

Another factor that indicated Malaysians had money to spend, he said, was the growth of domestic tourists’ expenditure.

He said RM74.8 billion was spent in 2016 by local tourists, compared to RM67.7 billion in 2015.

The bulk of expenditure, equivalent to 35.5 per cent, was made up of shopping, Rahman added.

“Malaysian tourists spent RM33.5 billion when travelling abroad in 2016, an increase from the RM31.1 billion they spent in 2015, and all this despite the depreciating ringgit in that period,” he said.

Rahman then revealed the retail trade sector grew 7.8 per cent, 11.5 per cent and 10.4 per cent in the first, second, and third quarter of 2017 respectively,

He said retail trade rose to RM410.5 billion from RM367.7 billion, an 11.6 per cent increase in 2017 compared to the year before.

This, he said, was in tandem with the rising median monthly household income and average expenditure as reported by DOSM’s Household Income and Expenditure Survey.

“The median income grew 6.2 per cent from 2014 to 2016 from RM4,585 to RM5,228, while average monthly household expenditure went from RM3,578 in 2014, to RM4,033 in 2016,” he said.

He said the country’s strong economic growth had benefited the people, with the rising income and purchasing power in turn boosting private consumption.

“Private consumption continues to be the biggest contributor to our economy, with it making up 53.2 per cent, or RM589,7billion, of the national GDP,” he said.

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