When food and clothing are the priorities for each Hari Raya

There is a tendency to overspend and this is caused by wasteful attitudes, says expert


Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the largest religious celebration in the country, observed by about 19 million Muslim Malaysians every year.

It is also the period of the highest spending as millions bought everything from songkok and baju kurung, to various delicacies and household items.

Many retailers see the Muslim religious period as a huge money spinner. This year, the spending is further bolstered by the zero-rated Goods and Services Tax.

But spending on the food and delicacies tops the Hari Raya spending agenda, as house visits are a prominent fixture of the celebration.

A freelance artist who is known as Farid, or @RJDraws on Twitter, said this Raya his family’s expenditure for their open house celebration was higher due to a surge in visits from family members and friends.

“We only splurge on food during this Raya,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

They also spent on tailored new clothing, which is common for many families.

“We reuse our old baju Raya for the subsequent days. But for the first day of Syawal, we always wear our new tailored baju Raya,” Farid said.

Puteri, a freelance baker, said her family with a combined household income of around RM8,000 is frugal when it comes to Aidilfitri spending.

“During this time, most of our money goes into duit Raya, readymade traditional kuih Raya, as well as a set of baju Raya for each one of

us in my family,” she said. Estimates from Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) showed a 30% surge in spending during the recent Hari Raya period.

However, critics said the celebration could also be overdone — and at times, wasteful.

Malaysian Financial Planning Council’s Journal of Financial Planning editor-in-chief Associate Professor Dr Mohamad Fazli Sabri said there is a tendency to overspend and this is caused by wasteful attitudes.

According to his 2016 “Study on Consumer Spending During Raya Season” which involved 748 respondents nationwide, the majority of consumers did not follow their predetermined budget.

“The majority of buyers (79%) had a budget allowance for the festive season. However, about 82% still ended up spending more than expected.

“Over half (55%) of the respondents spent over their usual monthly expenditure during the festive season, 22% spent double, while the other 5% over three times more than usual,” he said.

Mohamad Fazli said most buyers spent between RM100 and RM300 on clothing for themselves, their spouse and children, kuih Raya, Raya meals, car services, travel fees and duit Raya.

“Meanwhile, most respondents spent less than RM100 on jewellery, household items and zakat fitrah,” he said.

He said one of the tips to save on spending during the season is to prepare an allocation of around RM1,000 to RM2,000.

“Also, plan your necessities and needs to buy, and be ready to abide by the allocation you have prepared,” Mohamad Fazli said.

He added that most purchases should be settled via cash in order to avoid debts that can accumulate from credit card usage.

The Hari Raya celebration continues with open houses for the rest of Syawal.

Spending is expected to continue, boosting sales and adding joy to the retail sector for the rest of the year.