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Retailers cautiously optimistic of growth

RETAILERS are cautiously optimistic of growth this year amid high prices of commodities and slower remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Maria Alegria Limjoco, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) vice chairman, told this reporter on Tuesday that they are aiming for double-digit growth this year after sales increased 12 percent in 2010 mainly on the back of election spending.

While the sustained consumer confidence would help jack up retail sales this year, the record-high global prices of goods may dim prospects, Limjoco said.

“So far, the rising prices have not yet affected us, but some people are saying it might,” she said, adding that the PRA would revisit its growth target in light of this concern.

Limjoco also noted that the unstable political situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the disasters that struck Japan may slow down remittances, which have been bolstering domestic consumer spending.

Still, retailers are bullish especially about the increasing number of foreign tourists inthe country, which provide opportunities to micro entrepreneurs, she said.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Alberto Lim told a press conference that the number of foreign visitors during the first two months of the year reached about 670,000, up 18 percent year-on-year.

Samie Lim, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) vice president for tourism, noted that up to 60 percent of tourists usually go shopping in the places they visit.

To help small businesses tap the growing tourist market, the PRA, the DOT and the PCCI are jointly spearheading the project dubbed “Turista-ra Na! Lakbay-Turo para sa Micro-Tourism Enterprise,” wherein entrepreneurs in key tourist destinations would undergo free training to improve their customer service, merchandizing and retail inventory skills.

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