FACED with bad times, Penang’s hawkers have a tough decision to make about their food prices.
Some are trying their best to keep their prices the same, but there are remarks that hawker food in some places are going up.
A check in Cecil Street, however, shows that most hawker there are holding the line with their prices.
Cecil Street market koay teow th’ng seller Ong Cheong Pin, 56, said although business had dropped by at least 50% due to the movement control order (MCO) and conditional MCO, the price of his noodles remains the same.
“I have been selling noodles here for more than 20 years and this is the first time I have seen business drop this bad.
“Previously, we had a lot of locals as well as overseas tourists enjoying their meals here, especially during the weekends.
“Now tourists are not allowed and we only sell takeaways.
“But most of the hawkers here decided not to increase prices.
“The prices of some ingredients have increased, but most of us are keeping our food prices the same.
“The price of my noodles has been the same for the past two years, ” he said.
Fried kuih seller Ooi Eng Siang, 18, is keeping the prices of his snacks the same too.
“My father and I sell fried kuih at the pasar malam too but we are not allowed to do so for now.
“Business is uncertain. Some days we get to sell a lot and some days we have no business at all.
“We took a short break when the MCO began in March and got back to work at my sister’s stall here on April 1.
“The prices of the kuih remain the same as we don’t want to burden our customers in times like this, ” he said.
Beverage stall operator Lim Lay Ying, 53, said although they only provide takeaway services for the time being, prices of her drinks remain the same.
“We closed for four weeks when the MCO was first announced.
“We hope that our customers can dine-in here soon so that business will pick up.
“The prices of our drinks and juices remain the same so that it is affordable for all, ” she said.
There had been talk in town that several hawkers had raised their prices to make up for losses suffered during MCO.
Consumers Association of Penang education officer N.V. Subbarow said they received reports that many food sellers and hawkers including cut fruit sellers had raised their prices.
“Cut fruits like papaya, which was sold for RM1, now sell for RM1.50.
“Each cut fruit is now selling at 50 sen to 80 sen more.
“The hawkers are saying that they have lost big money during MCO and now it’s the time to make money.
“But there are a few mee goreng sellers who either reduce the portion size or stop adding ingredients like vegetables and prawns.
“Any extra items will be charged. Due to their loss of income during MCO, they are now very particular about giving extra.
“Making money now is their main aim. You can’t blame them. It’s about survival, ” he said.
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