KUALA LUMPUR,Aug 19: The retail sector is expected to recover in the second half of 2020, boosted by local consumption with sales likely to recover to 80% of pre-Covid-19 levels in the fourth quarter from the current 70%, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mustapa Mohamed says.

He said there had been signs of recovery as the economy re-opened, noting the improved unemployment figures released by the statistics department.

According to the department, Malaysia’s June 2020 unemployment rate declined month-on-month to 4.9% from a record high of 5.3% in May 2020 as more sectors, including the services industry, reopened to revive the country’s economy while curbing the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Subject to a second lockdown, the sector will be normalised, with local consumption to be the growth driver for the country,” he told reporters after a closed session with retailers at the Sunway Pyramid mall yesterday.

Mustapa also said it was vital for Malaysians to support local producers as the tourism industry was still closed.

He said he expected further economic recovery in the third and fourth quarters, on par with Bank Negara’s 2020 gross domestic product growth forecast of -3.5% to -5.5% after a contraction of 17.1% in the second quarter this year.

Meanwhile, advisor for Malaysia Shopping Malls Association HC Chan said in July, some 90% to 95% of retail outlets had resumed operations with mall visitors hitting 80% of pre-Covid-19 levels.


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