Latest shopping trends in town

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The average Malaysian shopper is a lot more savvy and sharp at finding a good deal for themselves while expecting quality, says Tan Hai Hsin, the Managing Director of Retail Group Malaysia.

For the last quarter of this year, the retail industry is expected to grow by 5.5%. This growth rate is to be supported by the festive holidays, school holidays and year-end sales. For 2012, Retail Group Malaysia expects the Malaysia retail industry to grow at 6.0%.

The Budget 2013 announcement is not expected to boost extra sales for Malaysian retailers during the year-end holiday as most monetary incentives will only be given out in the middle of January 2013. Therefore, Malaysian consumers continue to be cautious in their retail spending. Yet, they will always find the best ways to stretch their money to get retail goods and services that will enrich their lives.

Current shopping trends

Since the mid 2000s, Malaysian shoppers began to learn how to live a meaningful and healthy lifestyle. They are now smarter shoppers, demand for good quality products and services at low prices, demand for goods and services that will improve their life and make them feel good. ‘Value-for-money’ relates to both price and the intangible values such as ‘the feel good factor’.

As compared to the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Malaysian shoppers are more knowledgeable on how to shop for quality products and services at low prices. Due to the widespread use of the internet, they are able to learn more about quality of products and services prior to their purchases. They pick up information from retailers’ websites and social media before making their purchases. They will only patronise retailers that offer genuine discounts and good quality products. Retailers are no longer able to attract shoppers by inflating retail prices before giving heavy discounts or by offering fashion items made from poor quality material.

For grocery items, Malaysian consumers will patronise retailers that offer the lowest prices. They now buy more generic products and house brands from major grocery retailers such as Giant, Tesco, AEON, Mydin, Econsave, etc.

According to Tan, since the mid 2000s, Malaysian are now smarter shoppers, demanding for good quality products and services at low prices

For outdoor dining, they pick restauranteurs that offer good quality food at affordable prices. For year-end celebrations, they will visit restaurants that offer value set meals in conjunction with the several year-end celebrations. In the Klang Valley, eating a bowl of RM24 Japanese noodles (ramen) is becoming popular. Operators include Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Yamagoya Ramen, Goku Raku Ramen, Ramen Taiko, Menya Musashi, etc.

For bread and pastry, they visit bakery stores near closing time to enjoy heavy discounts. In the Klang Valley, more people are willing to pay more than RM15.00 for a loaf of bread. Examples of gourmet bakeries include The Loaf, Bonjour Garden, Tommy Le Baker, etc.

This year, sipping a small cup of gourmet coffee priced at RM 25 is also a new trend in the Klang Valley. Independent gourmet coffee cafés includes Typica, Dotz Café, Whisk, RAW Coffee, Moon Tree, Artisan Roast, Coffee Famille, Await, Hot Shots, Top Brew, The Brew Culture, Coffee Stain by Joseph, Espressolab, etc.

Uniqlo is one of the latest international mass-market fashion brands to enter Malaysia recently.

For fashion, Malaysian consumers still demand brand names. But most will wait for sales. H&M and Uniqlo are two of the latest international mass-market fashion brands to enter Malaysia recently. They have been attracting young shoppers with the opening of new branches in major shopping centres in the Klang Valley.

In terms of digital gadgets, the latest IT products such as iPhone 5, the iPad3, iPad Mini, Samsung Galaxy SIII and Samsung Galaxy Note II are the latest must-have gadgets to purchase during this holiday period.

Speaking of digital, it is also clear that internet shopping through local and overseas sites are also popular during this holiday period. Malaysians are now more willing to purchase fashion items through internet.

For overseas air travel and hotel, they will buy many months in advance to enjoy very low prices.  Air Asia, Agoda, Asiaroom and Expedia are popular sites for Malaysians to search for cheap flights and hotel rooms.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Malaysians are smarter shopper today and this trend of buying online is just the latest example of this. Happy shopping!

Photo credit: Flickr user phalinn

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