WITH the year-end festivities out of the way, it’s time to make preparations for Chinese New Year.
Already, speciality shops selling must-haves for the lunar celebration are doing brisk business in Ipoh, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation in welcoming the Year of the Monkey.
Leong Meng Tung, owner of Wing Woh Loong Sdn Bhd – a household name for various waxed meats, abalone and sea cucumber, said seasonal items like waxed duck, sausages and preserved meats have been on sale at his shop in Ipoh Old Town since early December.
Leong, 77, the second generation to run the family business started by his father, also sells hard-to-get items such as waxed piglet, dried duck kidney and liver, and preserved duck tail from Hong Kong.
And because they are difficult to come by, Leong’s customers have no qualms about travelling all the way from Kuala Lumpur and even Singapore to buy the products year after year.
“People do not only buy them for consumption during Chinese New Year.
“Many look forward to eating the unusual products even before the celebration arrives,” he said, adding that customers should however expect at least a 10% increase in prices compared with last year because of the weaker ringgit.
“For the same reason, we decided to take in less stock this year.
“These are more difficult times and I should think people will be more cautious with their spending,” he said.
B&M Seafood Sdn Bhd worker Lau Sau Han said the shop started promoting its waxed meats a week before Christmas.
“The sales of waxed meat have been quite good.
“Customers are also stocking up on their sea cucumber, dried mushrooms and canned abalone already,” she said.
Wong Yuann Noan, a worker at SungKhong Trading, which sells Chinese medicinal products, said while people typically buy foodstuffs early, the sale of hampers only pick up two weeks before Chinese New Year.
“We have seen some people buying hampers right now, but there are more people who are just making enquiries and comparing prices,” she said.
Likewise, Eu Yan Sang’s Ipoh Old Town branch manager Chow Pek Yit said many people have already made enquiries about hampers for friends, business associates and clients.
“People typically survey prices early on and then only commit themselves when it is nearer to the festival,” she said.