YANGON (Xinhua): Sales of the Chinese New Year decorations and snacks in shops at Yangon's Chinatown have slowed as commodity prices are soaring in the South-East Asian country of Myanmar.
Retailers from the Yangon's Chinatown said the prices of the festive products for the Lunar New Year nearly doubled, compared to the prices a year earlier.
U Maung Aye, owner of the One Star Store at the Yangon's Chinatown, told Xinhua that his shop saw a slight decrease in sales of New Year products this year, saying that some prices were up nearly 100 per cent.
"Customers have (their) intended limits on spending on the New Year stuffs," he said, adding that things used for the offering and prayer rituals are currently bestselling at his shop as the Chinese New Year falls on Sunday (Jan 22).
With the Year of the Rabbit around the corner, Chinese residents in Yangon are thronging the shops at the Yangon's Chinatown to buy things for the New Year.
"Red envelopes are selling well at my shops. As the new year is the Year of Rabbit, the sales of rabbit dolls are also good," Sin Sin, a retailer selling festive items at the Chinatown, said.
Wai Yan Phyo, a 21-year-old cashier from Lout We Sein Convenience Store, said that his shop mainly sells snacks for the New Year and the prices of the foods nearly doubled.
"The price of this snack box was 2,000 kyats (about US$1) last year, and it is now 3,600 kyats (over $1.7)," he said, showing a Chinese New Year snack box at his shop.
Su Khin Win, a 35-year-old street vendor, has been selling the Chinese New Year products annually at the Chinatown for 20 years.
"Sales are still low this year as the commodity prices are soaring. Until this day in last year, four large carton boxes of joss papers were already sold. This year, only two boxes are sold," he said, adding that the top-selling day is the day before the offering and prayer rituals are made.
Some of my customers have cut their purchased quantity of the New Year items from 10 packets to five packets, from five to three and from three to one, he added.
In addition to commodity price hike, transport difficulties and devaluation of the Myanmar currency are the other factors that make sales slow at the Chinese New Year market of the Yangon's Chinatown, shopkeepers said.
The Myanmar currency kyat was devalued by about 18.11 per cent against the US dollar in January year-on-year, the Central Bank of Myanmar's figures showed.
Wang Chang Hai, a 72-year-old shopper at Chinatown, said that despite commodity price hike, he will perform the offering and prayer rituals as they are the traditions that should be preserved.
"If you don't preserve your traditions, they will go extinct. I will perform rituals and celebrate the traditional New Year even if the prices are higher than right now," he said with a smile.