GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As businesses in Malaysia reopen after over 50 days of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, some traders are saddled with extra work as spots of mould have appeared on merchandise.
At a shopping mall in Penang's Pulau Tikus, a travel and cold-wear store owner who wanted to be known as Mr Chong said it could have happened due to humidity.
"As the mall temperature depends on the air conditioning, sometimes it may be humid when the cool temperature suddenly rises.
"This causes a sudden increase in water vapour in the surrounding air, making it more likely for mould to grow," said the 47-year-old, whose shop had been closed since the start of the country's movement control order (MCO).
Mr Chong said mould was found growing on some wallets, leather backpacks and handbags.
"It makes the products look less attractive but it does not affect their function. All we did was use a bit of oil and polish them with a clean cloth," he said when met at his store on Monday (May 11).
Another wallet and bag seller in a shopping mall here who wanted to be known as Ms Lai, 65, said most of her products were dusty.
"Some products on the display rack had dust on them as we were unable to clean them when we were closed. Most of our other products are fine as we wrapped them in paper for storage before we closed for the MCO.
"As most of our products are not pure leather and made of PU leather or PVC leather, they are less prone to mould," she said.
A shopping mall sales assistant who wished to be known as Ms Saw, 51, said leather products with mould growing on them could be easily wiped off with baby oil or furniture polish.
"During the two-month closure, there may be fluctuation in the temperature of the air conditioning at the mall. The air may be more humid sometimes. And since it has been raining, the air may be moist.
"Leather is durable and if you take care of it well, mould should not grow easily on it," said Ms Saw, who oversees the leather wallet and bag section at the mall.
In Petaling Jaya in the state of Selangor, Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president Garry Chua said losses from damage of goods during the MCO period were rare.
"I think there are remote cases where there were damage of goods, but MRCA members have not had issues with that," said Mr Chua.
He also said that retailers and shopping malls needed to work together to attract more customers.
"Shopping malls must have aggressive promotions to help retailers.
"Malls also need to show that they have their standard operating procedure to prevent Covid-19 infection, such as temperature checking and providing hand sanitisers, to bring back customers' confidence," he said.
A post showing photos of leather goods covered in mould has gone viral on social media.