By ILONA ANDREW
KOTA KINABALU: The shopping scene for Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year is noticeably quieter compared to previous years due to the current conditional movement control order (CMCO) where people are advised to stay away from crowds for public safety.
This means that there will be no “balik kampung” exodus and hosting open houses – a tradition practiced by many Malaysians celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri since a long time ago.
Based on a survey by Borneo Today on Wednesday, the shopping scene at Kompleks Segama where people usually throng a few days before Hari Raya to shop for clothes, jewelleries, and home decorations was distinctly quieter.
Although Hari Raya will not be as lively as before, Sitti Aminah does not want to kill the excitement of her children who are thrilled for the celebration so she chose to buy some Raya clothes for them.
During the previous years, the 31-year-old single mother’s ways to celebrate were gathering with her relatives and strolling around the city.
“Preparation for Raya this year is simple, as long as the kids are happy. For adults, this is a difficult time to celebrate Raya.
“There’s food like kuih raya and chicken for the kids. It is important for them to be happy,” said the 31-year-old single mother from Pulau Gaya.
She said, Raya would be a little underwhelming for her, just like the Ramadam month due to the implementation of the movement control order (MCO).
For Norini Gandum, her Raya this year will be celebrated without the presence of some her children who are unable to return home.
“My Raya preparation is plain and moderate since some of my children cannot come home. We may also not be able to pay a visit at the graveyard during the first day of Raya.
“Usually my family from Kota Marudu will come to celebrate Raya with me at Kota Belud but they would not be able to do so this time,” said the 49-year-old civil servant.
However, she was glad as she could at least shop for her necessities like dresses and shoes albeit in a moderate way, since the MCO has been relaxed.
Several other businesses have begun to reopen since the relaxed MCO, but clothing stores are still experiencing slow movement in their business, even though it is just barely a week away from Raya where people usually do their last-minute shopping.
“People would start crowding the store to shop for clothes within the period of two months before Raya celebration but due to MCO, a lot of people are still reluctant to go out shopping.
“Usually people would shop for new dresses and curtains for Hari Raya open houses, but not this year. Thus, our business has dropped by 85 per cent,” said the managing director of Trading Sdn Bhd, Michael Pan Lee Chan who hoped that the business would eventually pick up by next year.
According to him, quite a number of customers came to the store during the first day of its reopening on May 11 but the number has decreased as days went by.
“Those celebrating Raya will not be hosting any open houses this year, maybe that’s why they are not buying anything.
“We had customers from various districts such as Sandakan and Semporna who like to shop here as we offer a variety of clothes for them to choose.
“Now, we only receive a very small number of customers, even with our ongoing cheap sales promotion,” he said.
A worker at Fatimah Textile said the shop only receives an average of 20 customers per day.
“Many people came to shop last year but maybe due to MCO, we only receive a small number of customers this year.
“Most of them only shop for their children,” said Niza Areesya.