RETAILERS are approaching the fourth quarter of the year with “guarded optimism,” especially with the threat of the Delta variant and evolving community quarantine statuses.
According to Philippine Retailers Association-Cebu Chapter president Chester Lim, the aggressive vaccination rollout of the country is painting a rosy picture for the otherwise dampened outlook of the retail sector.
“Given that there are more people vaccinated, a better fourth quarter is expected. In fact, big malls are bullish to project a 70 percent target of pre-pandemic (2019) figures while supermarkets are projecting a 10 percent increase versus 2020,” he told SunStar Cebu.
He said the country’s major retailers are stocking up for the fourth quarter.
However, Lim said retailers are still cautious with the fourth quarter performance due to the threat of the Delta variant and looming strict lockdowns should Covid cases rise again.
“The recent executive orders of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Cebu Province which allows more mobility to the vaccinated individuals is a welcome development for retailers. We applaud such strong leadership and quick action of our local government units,” he said.
Lim emphasized that this new environment should now be the new normal of doing business instead of implementing draconian lockdowns.
On the other hand, Robert Go, president of the Prince Retail Group, said there is no sign of recovery yet and no sign of a better Christmas.
He said the country remains in a seesaw situation now with different community quarantine status and a “mind-boggling” daily count of active Covid cases that recently reached more than 22,000.
Go said retailers suffered a huge loss last year.
“Many items remain stuck without any sale. For one, toys usually have the biggest sales increase for any category during Christmas but it remained sluggish since children and kids are not allowed to go out shopping,” he said.
Go said the sector’s only chance is a high vaccination rate for them to experience a better Christmas sales performance but by the low vaccination rate, he said, retailers will have to brace for another setback again. (JOB)