"I Think People Just Don't Have Money," Mydin Boss Claims. So Are All The Reports About Malaysia's Strong Economy Wrong?

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"I think people just don't have money," said Datuk Wira Dr Ameer Ali Mydin, Managing Director of the hypermarket and emporium chain, Mydin.

He had made that remark in discussing the hypermarket business performance in an interview on BFM's The Breakfast Grille on 5 February.

He was making the comment in relation to the local grocery business, and claiming that based on his company's data, hypermarkets have registered negative growth as well as forecasting that retails sales can't grow more than 3% in the year ahead.

In the interview, he also discussed what went wrong with the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia programme (KR1M), which his company discontinued operating last October and the government has just relaunched it under a rebranded KR1M 2.0 with a new business model earlier this week.

However, his comment has been taken up as a propaganda statement by those out to prove that Malaysia's economy is going bust.

The chatter soon reached social media with netizens debating whether all the GST and economic data showing growth were wrong if people really didn't have money to spend.

Many netizens pointed out that with supermarkets and hypermarkets mushrooming in every suburban housing estate, how is it possible that Mydin claims people have no money to spend.

Pic: TwitterPic: Twitter

Pic: TwitterPic: Twitter

Pic: TwitterPic: Twitter

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan has since weighed in on the issue, pointing out that hypermarket sales are not the only benchmark for a country's economic health.

"I refer to a news report by several media outlets with regards to the comments made by the Managing Director of Mydin retail chain that despite Malaysia’s strong economic growth, Malaysians don’t have money to spend."Many other reasons why Mydin made losses," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan says."Many other reasons why Mydin made losses," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan says.

"According to him, this is evidenced by continued contraction of hypermarket sales.

"Based on data provided by Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), share of hypermarket sales to retail sales is only 8%.

"With that, hypermarket sales cannot be viewed as the only benchmark of retail sales performance and to a large extent, economic condition of Malaysia and the people," he highlighted in a statement posted on Facebook.

He went on to provide data on domestic retail trade growth as well as the evolving retail industry model as more shops migrate online and the growing competition due to new players entering this industry.

"The number of non-specialized stores which include hypermarkets, increased from 66,920 establishments (2016) to 73,848 establishments (2017). This alone could be one of the reasons why some hypermarkets are facing slowing sales as consumers have more choices to shop.

"Some of the hypermarkets in Malaysia have already started to offer online grocery shopping and delivery to their customers. Those which have not ventured into the “trend” yet will lose out on the potential gains that come from thriving online shopping scene," he added.

He also pointed to recent data on rising median monthly household income, rising income and purchasing power as well as private consumption data as proof of Malaysia's overall economic performance.

"Economic performance and condition of a country and its people cannot be measured by just one sub-sector such as hypermarket industry alone," he concluded.

- mD