JB businesses see silver lining in a weaker ringgit
JOHOR BAHRU (THE STAR) - The weak ringgit has given businesses here much reason to be cheerful, as they expect more Singaporeans to cross over due to the strong dollar.
Operators of food and beverage outlets and money changers are eagerly awaiting the weekend to welcome larger crowds, with business already having improved with the reopening of the border with Singapore on April 1.
A supervisor at a money changer outlet who only wanted to be known as Chan said business picked up by about 20 per cent and the situation was expected to become livelier in the coming weeks.
“We have seen an increase in customers who are mostly returning Malaysians working in Singapore who have been separated from their family here for a long period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The amount of ringgit purchased is higher compared to before, up to about RM10,000 per transaction.
“Hopefully, the strong Singapore dollar, coupled with the lifting of international travel restrictions, will bring in even more people from across the border,” she said.
It was reported that the Singapore dollar hit a record high against the Malaysian currency on Monday.
The ringgit depreciated to 3.1766 against the Singapore dollar as the imminent interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve and the weakening of the yuan continued to weigh on the local currency’s performance.
Johor Bahru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said the Singapore dollar reaching an all-time high was a timely boost for local businesses that had been suffering from the lack of tourists since the pandemic began.
“Besides food and beverage outlets and grocery shopping, the service industry including car wash outlets and workshops have been enjoying brisk business in the past couple of weeks.
“The Johor Bahru city centre has changed overnight and became much more vibrant as we can also see many Singapore-registered vehicles on the roads these days.
“I expect the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri period and durian season starting June will bring in even more crowd from Singapore,” he said.
Johor Bahru Coffee, Restaurant and Bar Operators Association chairman Tiong Kiu Wong advised operators to make the necessary preparations to cope with the potential increase in customers.
According to him, local food and beverage outlets saw an increase of at least 30 per cent in business since the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1.
“The increase in patrons are a mix of returning Malaysians working in Singapore as well as tourists from across the border,” he said.