JOHOR BARU: Although Deepavali is just a few days away, traders are complaining of slow sales with a noticeable decline in customers from Singapore compared to previous years.
R. M. Narayanan, a manager at an apparel store in the city centre, said there was a dip of about 40% in sales this year as a bulk of their customer base were Singaporeans.
He feels the traffic congestion on the Causeway contributed to the decline as commuters could be stuck in the jam for up to two hours just to cross the border.
“Our Singaporean customers have complained that it is not worth sitting through the jam for more than an hour to come here, shop and then go through another round of traffic congestion on their way back.
“Since about 70% of our customers are Singaporeans, we really feel that the shopping crowd has quietened this year with Malaysians also watching their spending,” he said at the store in Jalan Trus yesterday.
S. Krishnadevi, one of the traders selling decorative items at a Deepavali bazaar in the city, echoed similar sentiments as she is also seeing slower sales this year.
She said there were many similar bazaars in areas like Skudai, Masai and Tampoi for the festive season, which caused the customer base to spread out.
“Having more bazaars is good for customers as they have more choices and they don’t have to travel far, but it is not very good news for us as traders as sales have dropped,” she said.
Krishnadevi said she started designing and selling earrings last year priced from RM30 to RM50 a pair to boost her business at the Deepavali bazaar.
Cookie seller V. Sumathi Patchiapan, however, said she enjoys brisk business as most of her customers were regulars who would buy up to 10 tins of her wares per order.
“I am lucky to have regular customers from both Malaysia and Singapore who have given me a lot of support throughout the 20 years of my business,” she said.
She added that she sold more than 40 varieties of cookies and muruku at her stall.
She said traditional cookies such as putu kacang, kuih makmur, pineapple tarts and coconut biscuits were the popular choice among customers.