Retailing in Myanmar has been negatively impacted by the ongoing political crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to 2020, new retail outlet openings slowed down significantly across the country in 2021 while some outlets closed down altogether as they were unable to cope with decreasing revenues and increasing expenses (such as rent).
Retailing in Myanmar saw heavy losses in 2021 as the majority of households saw a drop in their incomes. This was a result of the ongoing economic contraction which started in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Myanmar’s economy has been severely damaged by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and perhaps even more significantly the fallout from the military coup, which took place in February 2021. These events have had damaging implications on the lives of most of the population, in a country in which 9% of the population still live below the international poverty line (USD3.
Economic activity was hard hit by reduced mobility and a drop in incomes in 2021. The military coup led to protests and labour shortages, as well as the ongoing disruption of critical business services, including logistics and telecommunications, and public services such as health and education.
Myanmar’s banking system is not functioning effectively due to tight restrictions on cash withdrawals for individuals and businesses which have been set by the military-controlled Central Bank. With cash shortages becoming a major problem, more households looked to make payments via mobile banking.
Myanmar’s retail sales are currently dominated by informal channels, with formal retailers responsible for less than 10% of the market. The COVID-19 pandemic and the military coup have done little to improve this situation with demand for consumer goods through formal channels suffering as a result.
Retailing in Myanmar is expected to continue facing challenges until the country’s political situation is resolved, with this alongside the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to negatively impact the economy. Until such time most households will likely continue to exercise caution in their spending.
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Sales of new and used goods to the general public for personal or household consumption. Excludes specialist retailers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, vehicle parts, fuel. Also excludes foodservice, rental and hire and wholesale industries (Cash and Carry). Sales value excluding or including VAT/Sales Tax. Retailing is the aggregation of Store-based retailing and Non-store retailing. Retailing excludes the informal retail sector. Informal retailing is retail trade which is not declared to the tax authorities. Informal retailing encompasses (a) sales generated by unregistered and unlicensed retailers, ie retailers operating illegally, and (b) any proportion of sales generated by a registered and licensed retailer which is not declared to the tax authorities. Unregistered and unlicensed retailers operate predominantly (although not exclusively) as street hawkers or operate open market stalls, as these channels are harder for the authorities to monitor than permanent outlets. Activities in the illegal market, which is usually understood to refer to trade in illegal, counterfeit or stolen merchandise, are included within our definition of informal retailing. Activities in the “grey market”, which is usually understood to refer to trade in legal merchandise that is sold through unauthorized channels – for example cigarettes bought legally in another country, legally imported, but sold at lower prices than in authorized channels – will be included as informal retailing if no tax is paid on sale by the retailer. However if the retailer pays tax – for example on cigarettes bought legally in another country but sold at a lower price than standard – the sale is included within formal retailing. In relation to click and collect purchases (i.e. where purchases are made over the internet but picked up at store) where the sales data is attributed depends on where the payment is made: If payment is made in store, then the sale is included in store-based sales. If payment is made over the internet, then the sale is included in internet retailing.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Retailing research and analysis database.
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