NATIONAL BOOK STORE (NBS) maintains that the majority of its stores will remain open, denying social media posts that the company is closing down branches in high-end malls.

In response to a social media post claiming that the company is closing down mall-based stores in favor of stand-alone branches and e-commerce selling, NBS, in a statement on Monday, said that “the story is not true” and that the company is adapting to challenges created by the pandemic. 

“In fact, the support given to us by our mall partners, especially Ayala, Robinsons and SM, in whose malls most of our stores are located, has given us a chance to focus our energies in trying to overcome this crisis and continue to serve our customers and communities,” NBS said.

But the company said that there will still be a “small number” of nonperforming branches that could be evaluated for closure or downsizing. NBS did not respond to questions about the number of stores that may be evaluated and the reasons behind possible downsizing.

Many retailers have been shutting down operations throughout the lockdown as customer foot traffic declined.

After the Metro Manila lockdown was once again eased, the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) said that it expects some improvement in consumer spending — although this would still be well below pre-pandemic levels.

PRA Vice-Chair Roberto S. Claudio said that lower demand is caused by limitations in public transportation and some apprehension from the public to go to malls.

National Book Store also said that it is developing new ways for customers to shop from home, including via SMS, Viber and Facebook Messenger. The store’s products can already be bought on its website, along with e-commerce platforms Shopee and Lazada.

Online shopping increased during the lockdown, with Lazada Philippines in July saying that its daily online seller onboarding tripled during the lockdown compared to preceding months. — Jenina P. Ibañez