Red face masks selling well but red packets not so

Son showing off a festive face mask at her stall in Chowrasta Market, Penang.

Festive red face masks are gaining popularity while demand has dropped for the red packets.

The Chinese New Year-themed face masks, which come in packs, feature floral prints, Chinese characters associated with blessings and good fortune, as well as animal and cartoon prints on them.

At Chowrasta Market in Penang, trader Son Jia Yi, 31, who sells a variety of the red face masks, is enjoying brisk business as customers are seeking out the festive-themed masks in bulk.

“A lot of them who stumbled upon my shop loved the masks.

“They bought a few batches on their own and recommended to their family and friends to buy from me as well.

“Most of my customers are very happy with the products so far and I am planning to stock up on these face masks.

“As the festive season is nearing, I am hoping and expecting the sales of these masks to increase even more, ” she said.

Son said the sale of her face masks is doing better than her other items although she sells other Chinese New Year-themed decorations as well.

Chong holding several red packets with ox designs at his stationery shop in Carnarvon Street.Chong holding several red packets with ox designs at his stationery shop in Carnarvon Street.

“The face masks are the only things that help me sustain my business now, ” she said.

Her red face masks are sourced from China.

“Face masks are a necessity now. Even during the festive season, we will be wearing them.

“As such, many people are buying red-themed ones as these can also be used as a fashionable item during the festivities.

“They can match the red face masks with their new and festive clothing during the Lunar New Year, ” she added.

On the other hand, demand has dropped for the red ang pow packets that come in an explosion of colours and designs for the Year of the Ox.

Van Hin Book Co owner Chong Theng Wee, 32, said orders for Chinese New Year red packets had dropped by at least half.

The shop has been selling a wide variety of red packets every Chinese New Year for about four decades.

“Our ang pow packets are mostly from China. This year, we decided to reduce our orders by 50% as we are sure that sales will be slow.

“Before we order the packets, we usually ask my regular customers first.

“Most of our customers decided to cut down their orders and some did not even place orders, ” he said at his stationery shop in Carnarvon Street, Penang.

The shop in the heritage enclave now displays nearly a hundred ang pow packets of multifarious colours and designs.

But in previous years, Chong said he had a lot more.

“We usually fly to China to pick and choose the packets three months before Chinese New Year.

“But with international travels strictly restricted, we could only choose through e-catalogues.

“Previously, they had thousands of designs to choose from, but this year, there are fewer than 1,000 designs available.

“The traders in China predicted business to be slow as gatherings are not encouraged.

“When people are not allowed to visit one another during the festive season, the number of red packets also will reduce, ” he explained.

As this is the Year of Ox, most of the red packets feature ox motifs.

“We have golden ox motifs that are in 3D and some are in cartoon form. Red packets of general designs are reduced.

“Prices are still more or less the same. Our ang pow packets range from RM1 to RM10 in half-dozen packs, ” he said.

Chong said orders for corporate printing have dropped by 50%.

“Many companies have to cut their budgets and printing red packets is not a necessity.

“We usually will put the company’s logo on ready-made ang pow to lower the cost, ” he said.

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