However, the latest Bank Indonesia retail survey shows that retail sales in Southeast Asia's largest economy slowed to a growth pace of 9.9 percent (y/y) in February, down from a growth pace of 12.9 percent (y/y) one month earlier. Indonesia's central bank detected a particularly large decline in sales of clothes. The survey also predicts that Indonesia's retail sales will slow further in March 2016.

Furthermore, Bank Indonesia's latest consumer confidence survey also showed a slight decline. Although Indonesian consumer remained optimistic in March 2016, the consumer index fell from 110.0 points in February to 109.8 points in March (a reading above 100.0 signals consumer optimism). Slightly falling consumer confidence in March was attributed to a soft decline in perceptions about current economic conditions (especially regarding income). The survey also shows that respondents expect to see upward pressures on prices in the next three months. Such expectation is related to the Ramadan and Idul Fitri celebrations that always trigger higher consumption and inflation.

What about the performance of Indonesia's leading retail companies that are listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange?

Matahari Department Store

Matahari Department Store is the nation's largest department store (and is the company that introduced the modern department store concept to Indonesia in the 1970s). Analysts are optimistic about the corporate performance of Matahari in 2016. This is partly based on the company's move to repay all its debt (Matahari paid off a IDR 700 billion bank loan in 2015), while its internal cash reserves are strong at IDR 1 trillion (approx. USD $76 million). However, the company prepared a more conservative expansion plan this year by aiming to open eight new stores only in 2016. The company has strong fundamentals, reflected by its achievement to maintain rising net profit during Indonesia's economic slowdown (2011-2015). Most companies saw their profit decline in line with the economic slowdown.

However, its success has also caused a high valuation of its shares (meaning its shares are expensively priced compared to other companies in the same industry). UOB Kay Hian Securities set its target price for Matahari Department Store's shares at IDR 21,200 per share. On Monday's trading day (18/04) Matahari's shares fell 0.55 percent to IDR 18,000 a piece. So far this year, its shares have climbed 2.27 percent.

Read more: Retail Business Indonesia to Grow, Matahari Department Store Takes Advantage

Ace Hardware Indonesia

Lower energy prices are not expected to impact directly on the performance of Ace Hardware Indonesia, a leading retail company engaged in the home improvement and lifestyle products segments, because its clients are mostly from the higher middle class segment. For Ace Hardware the rupiah exchange rate is more important because the company mostly sells imported products, hence a weak rupiah rate will put pressure on its net income. This year so far, however, the rupiah has appreciated against the US dollar and we expect to see a stable rupiah rate for the remainder of the year.

Despite the economic slowdown of Indonesia in the years 2011-2015, Ace Hardware (similar to Matahari Department Store) continued to record rising net profit. This is a good performance and is supported by the fact that the company does not have strong competitors. However, the company is also choosing a more prudent approach which includes a search for efficiency. In recent months Ace Hardware has closed several branches.

Samuel Sekuritas Indonesia expects that Ace Hardware's sales will rise 8.9 percent (y/y) and net profit to climb by 6.7 percent (y/y) in 2016. With a price-to-earnings ratio (PER) of 22.8 times the company's shares are regarded cheap. The average PER in its industry is 40 times.

Ramayana Lestari Sentosa

Lower energy prices are expected to have a positive impact on the performance of Ramayana Lestari Sentosa, one of Indonesia's leading department stores and market leader in the middle-low and lower retail segment (the segments whose purchasing power is expected to improve the most due to aforementioned government actions).

The company operates the Ramayana Department store as well as the Robinson and Cahaya stores. One of its main challenges this year will be to turn several of its Ramayana and Robinson outlets into SPAR supermarkets. Last year the company announced it had signed a deal with Dutch multinational chain SPAR to turn 66 existing outlets into SPAR supermarkets. In 2015, it opened 16 SPAR outlets. This year it plans to open 25 more SPARs (two of these will be brand new stores, not the result of turning an existing outlet into a SPAR).

This ongoing restructuring is reason for analysts to formulate a more conservative forecast for the company's sales and profit in 2016. Last year, the company's earnings were only positive in the fourth quarter of the year as the impact of the economic slowdown translated into softening earnings.

So far this year the company's shares rose 6.20 percent to IDR 685 a piece.

Mitra Adiperkasa

Mitra Adiperkasa, a company with a diversified portfolio that includes department stores, fashion, sports equipment, food & beverages, supermarkets as well as lifestyle products, experienced rough years in 2013, 2014 and 2015 particularly due to the weakening rupiah rate (the company imports a big chunk of its products). Net sales growth was maintained last year but fell to 8.5 percent (y/y) from a growth pace of 21.5 percent in 2014 (this was also attributed to the weak rupiah). Its sales are projected to grow 12 percent (y/y) in 2016.

This year Mitra Adiperkasa is focused on efficiency-efforts in its business operations by cutting unnecessary expenses.

So far this year the company's shares have risen 10.54 percent to IDR 4,195 a piece.