A woman walks past a charms shop in the Binondo district of Chinatown in Manila, Philippines. Picture: AFP/TED ALJIBE
A woman walks past a charms shop in the Binondo district of Chinatown in Manila, Philippines. Picture: AFP/TED ALJIBE

Manila — The Philippines, home to some of the world’s largest malls, will hold a month-long shopping sale next month, a move that could re-invigorate the retail sector hurt by the coronavirus scare.

Mall operators such as SM Prime Holdings and Ayala Land to more upscale retailers such as SSI Group will participate in the sale, which was announced a year ago and is part of the government’s six-year, tourism roadmap.

The Philippines’ promotion comes as retail sales across Asia are weighed down by the coronavirus that has curbed tourism and kept shoppers inside their home. Sales in SM Prime’s Philippine malls fell as much as 20% in the first few weeks of the virus while sales in its seven malls in China were cut by half, ABS-CBN News Channel said on February 14.

The government is also banking on domestic tourism to help offset what appears to be a sharp decline in international travelers, based on data from the Manila International Airport Authority. Private consumption accounts for about 74% of the economy, while tourism makes up about 12%.

Flights to and from Manila’s airport fell 22% after the Southeast Asian nation imposed a travel ban on places hit by the virus.  International travelers saw a 16.7% year-on-year drop to 1.35-million from January 25 to February 17, according to data. Domestic travelers declined 3.4% to 1.4-million.

“It’s a lost opportunity but at the end of the day, there is time to recover,” Manila airport chief Eddie Monreal said in a press briefing on Wednesday. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to recover soon.”

Bloomberg