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When to avoid “shopping jams”?

16 February 2013
Channel NewsAsia – Focus Malaysia

When to avoid “shopping jams?”

The shopping season had kicked in with the year-end holidays and most recently, the Lunar New Year. Want to know when would be the best time to shop and beat the queues? A recent survey conducted by Spire Research and Consulting revealed interesting insights into the Malaysian consumers’ spending patterns as well as the retail industry’s growth.

Leon Perera, Chief Executive Officer of Spire Research and Consulting, shared with Focus Malaysia that the best time to avoid shopping jams in Malaysia would be to visit malls before noon or after 3pm on a weekend. Alternatively, shoppers may want to avoid shopping on a Wednesday, as this would be when consumers are the most active. These insights were derived from a comprehensive study conducted in six regions in Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor, Melaka and Pahang – consisting of face-to-face interviews with 600 respondents aged between 18 and 55.

Aside from pinpointing the peak hour shopping times, the study also revealed insights about customer brand preferences. Mid-tier brands such as Factory Outlet Store (FOS), Padini and Vincci were amongst those most favored due to their affordable price range and quality. When asked to rate their purchase decision factors, Malaysians deemed price, quality and brand as the most important considerations. Perera noted that due to “the persistent global and domestic uncertainties, shoppers were being somewhat cautious when it came to spending”. They were on a lookout for affordable products, without compromising on quality; resulting in a surge in the number of mid-tier brands.

The majority of the retail brands were in the mid-tier segment in sectors such as apparel and accessories, footwear, home, and health & beauty products. For footwear and health & beauty products in particular, consumers were more willing to splurge on high-end products. Perera opined that the health & beauty industry would enjoy strong market growth in the next few years, due to an increasing demand for these products and the emergence of new distribution channels.

In terms of shopping channels, Spire’s research concluded that Malaysians preferred brick and mortar stores to online shopping; because they liked to see and touch the products they were buying, and also due to the social aspect of the activity.

The retail industry as a whole was set to continue to grow at a healthy rate. Perera added that this growth could be attributed to a higher disposable income and the migration of Malaysians into the city. Furthermore, the initiatives under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) had provided support in the development of the industry through the increase in large format stores and mega sales.

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