Philippine retailers flag sales drop due to coronavirus


Posted at Feb 18 2020 01:00 AM | Updated as of Feb 18 2020 09:29 AM

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MANILA -- The Philippines' main retailers group has reported a slowdown in sales as consumers cut back on shopping and eating out due to the outbreak of a new coronavirus in China.

Retail and restaurant operators are reporting a "30 to 50 percent drop" to the "total retail environment," which generates P20 billion in sales daily, said Roberto Claudio, vice chairman of the Philippine Retailers Association.

"That drop will go down into billions in terms of lost sales and revenues,” said Claudio, chairman of the athletic goods chain Toby's Sports.

Manila has so far reported 3 cases of COVID-19, all Chinese tourists from Wuhan where the virus was first reported. China reported on Tuesday that its death toll surpassed 1,800.

Claudio said his group would not reduce manpower. However, he appealed to mall operators to cut rental rates.

"If this goes on toward the end of the year, it is going to be devastating for most retailers and malls," he said.

The PRA counts among its members, SM and Robinsons malls, Rustans, Suyen Corp which operates local clothing giant Bench and Mercury Drug.

On Friday, SM Supermalls said local sales fell by 10 to 20 percent in the first 2 weeks of the outbreak but it was nonetheless bullish about its expansion locally and in China, where it plans to build its eighth mall.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier said the virus could slow inflation and dent first half gross economic product growth by 0.3 percentage point.