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Jakarta Post

Consumers wary of visiting shopping centers despite relaxed rules: Survey

  • Mardika Parama

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, June 15, 2020   /   05:14 pm
Consumers wary of visiting shopping centers despite relaxed rules: Survey Receptionists wear face shields and masks on Wednesday during their shift at a shopping mall in West Jakarta, as a cleaner in a face mask goes about his task. According to a study conducted by Nielsen Indonesia, only 67 percent of regular shopping malls visitors were interested in coming back during the PSBB relaxation period or the so-called new normal. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Retailers and shopping centers should run an extensive public relation (PR) campaign regarding their property’s health and safety standards to lure consumers that are still reluctant to visit retail stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey shows.

According to a study conducted by Nielsen Indonesia, 84 percent of regular shopping center visitors said they would opt to visit shopping centers again once the pandemic is over, while only 67 percent of the regular visitors are interested in coming back during the period of relaxed large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), the so-called new normal.

Read also: Govt pins hopes on restarting economy, despite Tuesday's COVID-19 surge

“Retailers could adapt [to the situation] with sanitation technology such as contactless sensors to replace buttons on the lift or parking ticket machines. They should also provide sterilization points to disinfect consumers’ groceries,” Nielsen consumer insight director Rusdy Sumantri said in a statement on Monday, adding that shoppers remained wary of the COVID-19 infection risk in shopping centers.

The government has begun to relax the PSBB that were implemented to contain the coronavirus spread, allowing shopping centers, among other facilities, to open gradually. The Jakarta administration stated that all malls in the city would be allowed to reopen on Monday despite the increasing number of infections.

More than 38,200 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded nationwide as of Sunday afternoon, with the death toll now exceeding 2,100, official data show.

Three provinces and four regencies/cities across Indonesia are still enforcing the PSBB, down from four provinces and 26 regencies/cities earlier in June.

Rusdy said retailers should run aggressive PR campaigns regarding their health protocol to seek to assure consumers of their well-being during store visits.

Read also: ‘Customers will still be worried about COVID-19’: shopping center association

“Shopping centers and brand owners must frequently run bold advertisement and position themselves regarding their health protocol to the consumers,” he said.

According to the survey, consumer behavior will remain generally the same as it was in the earlier stage of the pandemic, with groceries shopping for daily needs projected to remain the top reason for consumers visiting shopping centers.

Previously, the Indonesian Shopping Center Association (APPBI) stated that it expected shoppers to continue buying their basic necessities when visiting shopping malls and then returning straight home instead of browsing through shops for leisure, as is the case in normal times.

“People are not going to flock to shopping malls straight away [after the PSBB relaxation], because they will still be worried about the pandemic,” APPBI chairman Stefanus Ridwan said during a MarkPlus online webinar on June 9.

The number of shopping mall visitors had dropped since the country’s first two COVID-19 cases were announced in March. During the pandemic, no fewer than 190 shopping malls across the country were temporarily closed, APPBI data show.

Read also: Holidaymakers begin planning for domestic travel despite COVID-19 fears: Tripadvisor

Retail sales have dropped 64 percent, according to data from the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, while the Bank Indonesia (BI) consumer confidence index dropped to its lowest level in nearly 15 years in May.

Stefanus said customers would still need time to adjust to the health requirements of the “new normal”, including wearing a face mask inside malls, practicing physical distancing and using cashless payment methods.