Traders And Consumers Accommodate Each Other For This Raya

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- With Ramadan into its final week, traders are going the extra mile to woo customers who are wrapping up their Raya shopping before joining the 'balik kampung' exodus.

For the traders, Ramadan provides an avenue to earn or enhance their income hence those permanent and seasonal traders throughout the city or even in Jalan Masjid India have drawn their own plans to win over the customers.

They too have learnt of the customers' spending patterns and have come up with sales strategies based on how the customers are spending.

As for the consumers, with the rising cost of living, they have to be wise in preparing for the big day this weekend. Civil servants have to be prudent in their spending as the June salary was was paid on the 15th of the month meaning they have to wait for another 40 days before the next salary on July 25.

SPENDING WISELY

Hayati Shuaidi, the owner of traditional attire outlet KAS Tailor at Wisma Yakin, in Jalan Masjid India, notes that generally people are not spending much these days but those who could afford have been making early preparations for Hari Raya.

Hayati recalls that from the 1990s to 2000 there had been great enthusiasm to celebrate. A child will get two pairs of attire but now this is something rare.

"People have not stopped spending but are spending cautiously. They are not spending like what they used to do," she said.

However, there is the other side too. At the Omar Ali textile outlet nextdoor the festive spirit was evident. People have been buying the ready made attire for Hari Raya from this outlet right from February.

"Those who bought early say it helps them to manage their budget better. There is no need to join the last minute rush and one could shop comfortably," said shop supervisor Erni Nazir, 52.

Erni opined that shopping earlier is a boon for both the customers and traders.

DO BRANDS REALLY SELL

Nonetheless, looking at the changing spending patterns of the buyers, traders like Hayati have found ways to keep luring the customers by providing them with what they want especially from the cost perspective.

For KAS, it has been the routine to start the preparations right after the previous Hari Raya.

Hence, work has been ongoing since last year in choosing the fabric, accumulating stocks and other necessary preparations to sew the attires. The outlet produces its own range of attires without using the services of a third party.

The KAS brand name that goes back 29 years has a long list of loyal customers. The brand is promoted through word of mouth.

The outlet stopped taking orders even before Ramadan. However, the orders remain open to regular customers only as a show of appreciation.

"Initially the parents who wore the KAS brand, then their children. When the children grow up, they get the same brand for their children and the cycle continues," explained Hayati.

RAYA AND OTHER FUNCTIONS

As families get together during Syawal, there are also some who take the opportunity to get hitched, celebrate a child's birth or hold a thanksgiving function.

The public holiday on the third day (Monday) of Hari Raya will be used for these functions.

"Hence, this is why there are some customers who order additional set of attires to suit these functions. Some also buy ready made ones," explained Erni.

Erni pointed out the Baju Melayu remains the top choice apparel to be worn on the first day of Hari Raya.

Though there are some who prefer the kurta or robe, most go for the elegant traditional Malay attire with a modern touch.

THINNING PROFIT MARGIN

Fatin Farhana, 23, who works at the Natrah Kerepek House stall in Jalan Masjid India notes her outlet has reduced the price for its offerings so that the buyers are not burdened.

The outlet offers numerous raya biscuits, nuts, kuih batang buruk, serunding (met floss), dates, kerepek ubi beras basah, banana and onion fritters during each Ramadan over the last 15 years.

Though the prices have gone up, there is no drop in the sales. Some even bought in bulk to be resold in their respective villages.

"Customers come with their families to buy. Some come as far as Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei and buy in big quantities to be resold. They go for the serunding and kuih batang buruk," he said.

The outlet is open 24 hours during the last two weeks of Ramadan as this is when most people go all out to shop.

SATISFIED CLIENTS

For government pensioner Wan Aminah Khalid, 58, the Masjid India area has always been her favourite shopping destination as it is a one stop centre to source all the Hari Raya necessities.

"You can get everything in one location. I come on a working way using the LRT to avoid the traffic and the hefty parking charges. Can shop at one's own pace and then return home," she said.

A father of two, Muhammad Helmi Yusof, 36, shared that though he could shop within his neighbourhood in Seremban, once in a while he makes his way to Kuala Lumpur with his children to shop.

Helmi admits that he has no plans to spend big this year and only spent on his children's clothing as it does not fit them anymore.

"I'm spending on my children only. Mum and dad will be using last year's apparel. The money saved can be used to cover the expenses incurred when we get back to kampung," said Helmi who will be celebrating Hari Raya with his in laws in Bagan Datuk, Perak. BERNAMA