With the reopening of the country’s borders, songket dealer hopes her Singapore and Thailand customers would return to her shop
by SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
AFTER two quiet years of being under the Movement Control Order, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (TAR) is bustling again with customers from near and far coming for Aidilfitri preparations.
Jalan TAR has for decades been popular for its rows of stalls selling clothes, decorations and food of the festive season that come in wide varieties and at affordable prices.
With the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1, songket dealer Mariah Abd Rahim was hoping that her customers form Singapore and Thailand would return to her shop, as well as the stalls of Jalan TAR’s Ramadhan bazaar.
“This would definitely boost our sales after two years of being badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she told The Malaysian Reserve recently.
Mariah expected Jalan TAR to be congested but was relieved that traders and customers were complying with the standard operating procedures such as wearing face masks.
Mariah’s sales were heavily impacted by the pandemic where sales fell by almost 50% to RM1,500 a day.
She said before the pandemic, she could make up to RM6,000 or RM7,000 a day but plummeted after 2020 due to movement restrictions.
Even when restrictions were loosened in stages, Mariah said not many people came as they were still afraid of the virus on top of the low vaccination rate at the time.
“When the government allowed interstate travel last year, our fabric sales increased marginally. However, to recover from the pandemic, many traders hope to exceed last year’s Ramadhan sales,” she said.
Baju kurung seller Natasha Basir also breathed a sigh of relief as the country entered endemicity which would allow her business to bounce back.
“I am happy to see more customers, especially those who come with their families or groups in the evening and I expect to see more traders and customers next week.
“However, I am also a bit concerned about this year’s sales as many people have grown accustomed to buying anything online.
“We can see how the pandemic has changed buying behaviour where online shopping has become the norm and I believe this will probably threaten many retailers’ income this year,” she said.
Meanwhile, Roni Andika, who operates the IKS Kuih Raya Rizky Cookies stall in Kampung Medan, Petaling Jaya said she had made early preparations such as organising Aidilfitri cookies and putting on price tags to facilitate customers.
“I took out a capital of RM250,000 to stock up on 65 types of cookies, which are being sold at RM100 for five types.
“Although the price of items had increased by 30%, I still maintain the price of my cookies just as previous years,” she said.
The government has allocated RM300,000 for sales promotions at Jalan TAR in conjunction with the Aidilfitri sales.
Apart from that, the allocation is also aimed to encourage Malaysians to spend through vouchers.
This is a part of the “Program Jualan Malaysia” (PJM) launched in January.
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Datuk Rosol Wahid said the target is also supported by the reopening of borders and economic activities nationwide.
“PJM will also offer bargain sales which include festive season sales, mega sales, year-end sales and segment sales with eight major programmes planned by the ministry,” he said in his speech during the launch of PJM 2022 sales, “Jom Shop Raya”, at Jalan TAR.
“I believe the PJM 2022 sales value target can be realised through close cooperation between the government and all players in the retail industry.
“Therefore, I call on all industry players, suppliers and owners of retail premises to work with the government through the PJM 2022 initiative to offer the lowest and affordable prices for goods to be enjoyed by the entire Malaysia Family,” Rosol added.
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs enforcers have been deployed to monitor 50 bazaars and markets throughout the city daily, alongside 89 price checkers.