COVID-19 MCO boon for traditional sundry shops


ARGUABLY, the Movement Control Order (MCO) over COVID-19 that has been in force for just over a month now has made many Malaysians familiar again with what they remember as the sundry shop.

Frequenting the ubiquitous sundry shop cannot be assumed to be the new normal in life during and, perhaps, post-MCO as some of these traditional all-in-one grocery outlets have stood the test of time, even in the face of the omnipresent supermarkets and hypermarkets.

In a way, the MCO may have come as a blessing in disguise for the operators of these almost-forgotten shops, and their patrons as well.

Asmah Harun, 58, who runs a sundry shop in Kampung Beladau Selat, Kuala Terengganu, is beaming with joy that she has been getting more customers during the MCO compared to previously.

“Although I do not operate till late at night, the number of customers has increased. Previously, only people in the kampung patronised my shop but now I have customers from other villages, so much so that the police have to exercise crowd control and enforce social distancing,” she told Bernama.

Asmah said she has had to take delivery of a larger quantity of stocks from the suppliers to ensure uninterrupted supply of goods.

She also allows some of the villagers to sell prepared food at her shop.

Asmah said many men prefer to patronise her shop because they just have to pass the list of items to the shop assistants instead of having to go on a wild-goose chase looking for them.

Mohd Fazil Ibrahim, 45, a customer of a sundry shop in Penaga, Kepala Batas, Penang, said the short distance to the outlet is a great help and there is no long queue at the payment counter.

Furthermore, the sundry shop also sells a variety of goods including fresh vegetables, fish, prawns and beef, and there are choices for the customers daily.

“I can even buy on credit. I have been doing that all along,” he told Bernama.

The sundry shops in Johor Bahru, down south, are also a hit.

Nur Faezah Mohd Khalid, 30, said she has been frequenting the sundry shop just 800 metres from her house in Larkin during the MCO. Her usual haunts used to be the supermarket, wet market, pasar tani (farmers’ market) and pasar malam (night market).

“It is not just about saving time. I am not worried that I will get exposed to large crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have small children,” she told Bernama.

Her sentiments were shared by housewife Ainy Md Yunos, 68, of Kota Bharu, Kelantan.

Radio Televisyen Malaysia assistant engineer Salizah Duasa, 32, who lives in Negeri Sembilan, said she has no worries shopping at sundry shops in Seremban 2 because the operators enforce social distancing and provide hand sanitisers.

“Going to the supermarket requires getting past roadblocks. Buying goods online means having to wait for some time before they get delivered. More convenient to buy at sundry shops. After all, there’s not much difference in the prices anyway,” she told Bernama.

A check in Ipoh, Perak, reveals that the sundry shop, referred to as Kedai Acheh, is popular among shoppers.

Facebook postings also show that people in the other districts of the state also prefer to shop at these outlets because of their proximity to their houses and the variety of goods sold there.