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Online shopping takes a hit in Malaysia

WEAKER ringgit changing Malaysians` Internet buying habits. Malaysian onlineshoppers are turning to local sites as the weaker ringgit has made shopping on foreign sites much more expensive.

Local online retailer Lazada Malaysia said the drop in the ringgit`s value has not really affected sales on its site.

`In fact, Lazada Group as a whole recorded $40m in overall sales during its three-day Online Revolution Sale in December 2015.

`The competitive rates and deals that we offer on Lazada actually help Malaysians save more.

`The electronics category specifi-cally saw an increase in sales by 30pc last December alone,` said Lazada Malaysia CEO Hans-Peter Ressel.

Of the 230 respondents to Star2.

com`s online poll, 64pc say they have changed their online shopping habits.

About half of the poll`s respondents have opted to shop only during sales instead while 30pc have decided to cut back on shopping.

Another 16pc said they would shop at local online sites and brickand-mortar stores.

`I used to buy comic books, action figurines and collectors` items from international sites since many of them cannot be obtained locally.

`At first, I tried switching to HongKong or Taiwanese suppliers.

`But the fact that they usually get the same items from the United States means the price will end up about the same,` said Freddy Tan, 30.

`So, I now shop at local online sites such as Mudah, Lelong and Low Yat first before I look at international sites.

Nicholas Chin, 31, said he still preferred shopping online as there were bargains available.

`I bought an air purifier for only 255 ringgit ($60), inclusive of shipping, online.

`The same product cost 425 ringgit at a local store last year,` he added.

Others have returned to shopping the old-fashioned way, looking for bargains in shops, shopping malls and warehouse sales.

Self-confessed vanity shopper Natasha Gopal used to spend 2,000 ringgit every month online on clothes, shoes and jewellery.`Now, I spend under 800 ringgit and order one or two items of apparel only.

`With the weak ringgit, it`s too expensive to buy in sterling pound for the quality we are getting,` said the 30-year-old who now shops at local stores and warehouse sales.

But there are still others who continue to shop on international sites as they have found that it is still cheaper than buying locally.

University lecturer Maximus Sim said he buys classical, church and choral music scores online as it is cheaper to do so.

But even then, he is cutting down on his online purchases as the weaker ringgit has made it more expensive now compared with a year ago.

`The scorebooks, which cost 60 ringgit each before, are selling for 72 ringgit, plus shipping,` he said. • (4.24 ringgit = USD1) The Star/ANN