Ph retailers and malls experience decreased foot traffic amidst COVID-19 scare

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By: Philippine Retailers Association

Brick-and-mortar retailers in the country said they experienced decline in foot traffic as people avoid malls and retail stores amidst the COVID-19 scare, after the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed local transmission of the virus over the weekend.

According to the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA)—the premier trade organization of retailers and suppliers in the country—decrease in foot traffic is the immediate and apparent negative impact retailers and shopping malls felt due to the global outbreak, followed by drop in sales and problems and delays in supply chain or deliveries.

Based on a survey by the PRA among its members as of March 12, 2020, mall operators experienced 10% drop in sales, while many fashion retailers received the brunt of COVID-19 with at least drop of 20% in their sales.

However, not all retailers experienced decrease in sales, as supermarkets and groceries experienced more than 20% increase in their sales as more people stock up for household essentials and cleaning and sanitation products. While household furnishing category is still doing well.

In a consumption-driven economy, the retail trade, which has been doing well in the past years posted growth of 8.7% in fourth quarter of 2019, while the Services sector in which retailing belongs grew by 7.1% last year according to the Philippine Statistics report.

Safety precautions in place

Since the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in the country, in February, malls and retail stores have reinforced preemptive measures in their areas for the safety of both the consumers and employees.

Malls have set up thermal scanning in their entrances as well as alcohol and sanitizers. Stores have also made sanitizers and alcohol available for use of shoppers and employees and increased cleaning and disinfection of their areas, especially those that received high foot traffic.

Retailers have also stepped up to inform the public about on proper hygiene and their respective actions to ease out panic and worry of shoppers.

“The organization is exploring ways on how we can help PRA members and by extension the retail industry to alleviate the existing condition, through representation with the government agencies, shopping malls and other concerned agencies.” PRA President Rosemarie B. Ong said.