PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK): The usual festive and year-end sales have been given a boost by the impending Goods and Services Tax (GST) that will kick in on April 1.
Malaysian consumers have started grabbing luxury goods and big-ticket items at malls ahead of its implementation.
Several malls reported that higher-priced items such as furniture, large-screen TVs and refrigerators as well as jewellery and wristwatches were being snapped up.
Malaysia Shopping Malls Association adviser H.C. Chan said the strong demand was expected.
"People are opting to buy these now so as not to pay more after GST has been implemented," Chan said.
"We believe the demand for these items will reduce significantly after April," he added.
Chan said the boost in sales was good for the malls because business had been slow in the past 11 months.
"December is always the best month for malls," said Chan, who is also Sunway Shopping Malls and Theme Parks CEO.
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur retail chief executive Joyce Yap said watches and jewellery were selling "very well" in recent weeks.
"A watch costing RM1mil was bought by a local shopper almost as soon as it was put on display," she said.
"We are also seeing a rush for items that are not taxed now."
Yap expected the brisk sales to go on until Chinese New Year.
However, Malaysian Retailer- Chains Association (MRCA) president Datuk Liaw Choon Liang said MRCA members were not experiencing the expected spike in sales that usually happened in December.
"The third quarter of this year was particularly bad," he said.
"Sales are picking up but are still nowhere near expectations," he added.
"We think consumers are being cautious since the GST is scheduled to be introduced in a few months."
The MRCA represents more than 250 retail chain operators and more than 20,000 retailers nationwide.