Retailers still expect 'more progressive recovery' despite Omicron wave

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 29) — Despite the Omicron wave sweeping the country, local retailers expressed confidence the industry will continue to experience a sharp rebound from COVID-19, owing to a higher vaccination rate.

"Despite starting the year on Omicron surge, retailers remain to be very optimistic for a more progressive retail recovery as the country is now in a better position... they know better how to deal with the health crisis as compared way back in 2020, on the onset of the pandemic," Rosemarie Bosch Ong, president of Philippine Retailers Association, told CNN Philippines' Prices & Jobs aired Saturday.

Late in December, the Philippines saw a sudden increase in infections — forcing the pandemic response task force to impose a stricter alert level in Metro Manila.

Come January, more regions were also put under tougher COVID rules. Restrictions on minors and unvaccinated individuals were implemented as well amid the jump in new cases.

But Ong's optimism is driven by the government's vaccination rollout, with more Filipinos now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"And I guess we're all learning to live with the virus as health protocols have been the norm," she said.

"We're on the road to recovery. We've seen that in the last two months of 2021. We've seen the revenge in shopping. Many of our people really went out to buy goods for consumption," Ong added.

Ong said the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE Act in March 2021 also provided a boost to industry players.

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"For retail, definitely we're the hardest hit. I guess one of the welcome relief that we had was the passage of the CREATE bill which really provided huge relief to many of the businesses, especially SMEs," Ong said.

"At least they have something left for inventory, disposable cash for inventory and to provide benefits for the employees," she added.