Tourism, investments, infra projects to fuel retail growth
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - January 3, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The projected influx of Chinese tourists and investments coupled with the government’s infrastructure spending will push the retail sector to higher ground in 2018.

"When infrastructure (spending) comes into play, surely money comes in," said Philippine Retailers Association (PRA-Cebu) president Robert Go.

Putting the threat of increased competition aside, Go said the multi-billion-peso spending on infrastructure projects by the Duterte government will drive the retail industry into full speed.

He added that the promising tourism and high investment interests will all the more push the retail business into vibrancy.

Go however cautioned retailers to be more sensitive to the fast changing preferences of consumers. Retail dynamics this year will be greatly dictated by the unpredictability of consumers’ behavior.

"2018 continues to be a good year for retail, even more exciting," said Go adding that the younger consumers are the ones that will fuel the spending--from food, travel, consumer goods, and even entertainment.

While the outlook is again rosier than ever, Go said there are also changes that the retail sector will adapt starting this year. Aside from investing into sound market intelligence, constant monitoring of consumer buying habits, visual merchandizing will also take a larger chunk of the operational cost of retailers.

This is because, in both online and offline stores, visual presentation, and extraordinary customer service are just few of the crucial gauge if a retail business wants to take advantage of the higher purchasing power of the market.

According to Go, the more people can afford to buy, the more they are demanding for quality, and most of all superb customer service. This means, that retailers should connect with their customers in personal level – VIP treatment, regardless of social backgrounds.

Making personal connections with the consumers is important, as retail operators from all over the world are looking at the Philippines as fertile ground for expansion, due to strong demographics and economic strength of the country.

Local retail players could leverage of personal connection as edge, as they are the ones who speak the language, know the culture, he added.

Consumers may expect wider choices in retail, availability of unique and premium products at will be made affordable, he said.

Cebu's good prospects in tourism with the opening of the new airport will bring in stronger interests from retail outsiders to make their presence here.

It would be a more competitive retail environment, but also promising, Go said.

Aside from Chinese, who are mostly "shopping fanatics," local consumers are also expected to spend more this year. "Locals are willing to spend, instead of saving."

These and other positive indicators are enough to convince the retail sector of a more profitable 2018, added Go.




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