Retail sector needs better loans to modernise, say industry sources

Myanmar information search service

Retail shops and supermarkets are growing in popularity, but owners of traditional shops need capital to modernise, retailers said last week.

“We can say that modern retail shops are becoming more common in Myanmar, even though they are still not that many in number,” said Daw Wai Thit Lwin, managing director of abc Convenience Stores, which has about 50 shops across Yangon Region.

“It’s difficult to open small supermarkets because we cannot get affordable loans from the banks,” she added.

It also takes time for people to change their shopping habits – buying goods from traditional street markets – but said supermarkets and minimarts have a bright future, she said.

“Most of supermarkets and retail markets in Myanmar can only be found in the big cities, and there are many more traditional markets and shops.”

A spokesperson for the Myanmar Retailers Association said modern supermarkets and convenience stores occupy less than 10 percent of the national retail market.

U Aung Htun Thet, a presidential economic advisor, said advances in the retail field will increase with the country’s development.

“It depends on the country. If Myanmar develops then modern supermarkets and convenience stores will better match the country,” he said. “However, traditional markets will never disappear.”

Daw Wai Thit Lwin said the scarcity of affordable finance will stop many owners of traditional shops and markets from modernising their outlets.

“If the government gave loans at lower interest rates, then traditional retailers would be able to upgrade their shops, which will let them

compete with foreign companies in coming years, she told the Myanmar Times.

“But if they cannot compete in the future then these owners will feel aggrieved.”

She added that many traditional shop owners are experienced businesspeople who recognise they cannot compete against foreign heavyweights.

“We have to worry for the future of traditional shops against big foreign competitors because these shops might disappear in future, which is not good for customers.”

Daw Sandar Khin, a spokesperson for Gamon Pwint shopping malls, said supermarkets and convenience stores are mushrooming across Yangon and in other large cities.

“We have seen the industry develop a lot in the past two years,” she said. “People are getting used to shopping at supermarkets and convenience stores. But there is still a lot of room for growth.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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