Four Philippine companies landed in the top 100 retailers in Asia-Pacific, Euromonitor International said in a report released yesterday.

The Top 100 Retailers in Asia 2021 placed SM Retail Inc., the country’s top retailer, at 62nd among retailers in 15 countries in the region with sales of $5.4 billion in 2020 although this is down 14 percent from $6.3 billion in 2019.

Mercury Drug Corp., Puregold Price Club Inc. and Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. , the country’s second, third and fourth to retailers, respectively, placed 83rd, 85th and 99th, respectively in the Asia-Pacific list.

The report measured sales of new and used goods to the general public for personal or household consumption, both store-based and non-store based.

The report cited the growing trend that marked retailing in the Philippines during the pandemic in 2020 — community stores or stores situated in nearby communities/ neighborhoods, which existed prior to the new coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

“This trend is particularly driven by Alfamart, a minimart that is a hybrid between a supermarket and a convenience store. The concept increased in relevance in 2020 as consumers looked for the most convenient ways to complete their shopping trips, with the trend expected to continue in the forecast period (until 2025),” the report said.

Alfamart is also run by SM Retail.

Euromonitor projects retail sales in the Philippines to return to pre-pandemic levels by next year, guided by the overall economic recovery.

“Economic growth is projected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021, slower than most of the Philippines’ regional peers,” Euromonitor said.

The report cited the significant role of electronic commerce (e-commerce) in retail recovery as consumers are still wary of going out until the virus is completely contained, or vaccines become widely available.

Euromonitor said the government’s “We Recover as One” plan that provides, among others, a conducive environment for e-commerce development, is a key cornerstone to recovery.

With the Philippines having one of the longest lockdown globally that only had essential retailers operational at shortened operating hours, mixed retailers (except warehouse clubs) were the worst hit category among the concepts, according to Euromonitor.

This is because consumers more easily found what they needed in stock in specialist retailers, the report added.

Euromonitor said in the Philippines, e-commerce benefited the most from COVID-19, growing at a double-digit pace pre-lockdown but accelerated even faster in 2020.

“Retailers are beginning to see the value of e-commerce, particularly store-based retailers that were forced to halt physical operations,” Euromonitor said.

The report also said the Philippines and Indonesia witnessed a surge in social commerce through WhatsApp, Instagram and Viber.

“In the years to come, more brands are expected to tap into social media to virtually engage and build trust among consumers in addition to serving as retailtainment,” it added.

Southeast Asia registered a decline of 6 percent in 2020 while throughout Asia-Pacific, overall retail sales fell 4 percent.

Source: Malaya