THE Lunar New Year is just around the corner, but the usual din and noise of market-goers haggling with traders are missing at wet markets in George Town, Penang.
Although the supply of vegetables, prawns and fish is sufficient, the movement control order (MCO) has somewhat dampened the festive mood as many families could not reunite due to the interstate travel ban.
Prawn seller Poh Teik Lin, 70, said the price for prawns was almost the same as the previous years.
“Most of my regular customers have cut their orders by half as their children could not make it home for the festive season.
“Since there are only a few people at home, they will prepare only simple meals and celebrate on a small scale, ” he said when met at the Pulau Tikus market on Saturday morning.
Fishmonger Chua Kean Huat, 61, said his business has dropped by at least 70%.
“The market is so quiet and empty even on a weekend.
“In the previous years, this place would be packed with people a week before Chinese New Year.
“Due to the bad economy and the MCO, many customers cut down on their buying, ” he said, adding that this was the worst in over 30 years.
Steamboat ingredients seller Lok Sok Eng, 58, said she did not dare take in too many products as some of her regular customers are missing.
“Many customers told me that their children and grandchildren are not coming back for Chinese New Year.
“I can only wait until Chinese New Year eve for last-minute shoppers, ” she said.
Vegetable seller Tan Nai Tee, 60, said his business has been affected by a 30% drop due to the MCO 2.0.
“There is less crowd here this year but we have enough supply for everyone.
“My customers usually look for yam bean, cabbage and tomato.
“Although the prices of some vegetables had gone up a little, we’re not increasing the prices as we understand that times are bad for everyone, ” he said.