THE Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) said its outlook for the rest of 2022 as the public resumes its pre-pandemic consumption patterns.  

PRA President Rosemarie B. Ong said: “We’re expecting the second quarter to even be better than the first quarter. So far, the outlook (for) this year is very positive despite the challenges. Those challenges are external. We have no control of that. I think the main driver was home consumption,” Ms. Ong said on the sidelines of the PRA’s recent second quarter general membership meeting in Makati City.  

Asked about rising local coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, Ms. Ong said that the PRA is hoping that the infection count “does not escalate” and hinder the retail industry’s recovery.

“I think things are under control and besides, majority of the population has been vaccinated already. From the reports that we got, most of the infected easily recover if they are vaccinated,” Ms. Ong said.

The Health department on Saturday reported 13,021 active COVID-19 cases, following the detection of 1,825 new infections. 

Ms. Ong said however that PRA members are reporting challenges in logistics due to a shortage of shipping containers.

“It is a world container shortage because the world is ramping up (from the pandemic),” Ms. Ong said.

“Lead times have been prolonged. Retailers have to strategize. Before, it was two weeks, now (they have to plan around) one month. The lead time has doubled, depending on the origin,” she added.

Ms. Ong said some retailers have increased their prices due to rising fuel costs, though the trend cannot be “generalized — it depends on the sector.”  

“By and large, retailers are resilient. We’ve gone through the pandemic, we’ve gone through so many challenges, and we work together. We collaborate and share ideas,” she added.

Ms. Ong added that “we need to tech up the industry. For one, it will help the retailers to be more efficient in their processes — and (to handle) digital payments.”

The Department of Trade and Industry estimates the retail trade’s gross value added at over P600 billion in the first quarter of 2022, up from over P500 billion in early 2018. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave