KUCHING: Christmas decorations in Sarawak have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, driven mainly by the huge budgets shopping malls have at their disposal.
Consider The Spring Shopping Mall’s efforts this year. The management approved RM180,000 for lead designer Winnie Liew to build her team’s vision of a “mystical forest”, but even that was not enough.
“I asked for RM20,000 more and somehow, that was approved too. So, ya, we ended up spending RM200,000 just on decorations,” Liew told TheStar yesterday.
She and her team have been working since late October every night after the mall closed its doors.
“We work from between 10pm and 7am or 8am the next day. This went on for about two weeks.
Those of us involved did not go to work during the day.
“After most the night work was completed, we were given one full rest day, then it was back to work for the finishing touches,” she explained.
Liew added the effort was certainly worth it as shoppers have been heaping praises on The Spring for having the best decoration this year.
“It is particularly nice to get compliments from foreigners.
“A couple of days ago, an Australian couple told us how impressed they were. It really made us feel we had achieved something.”
Liew is already busy finalising designs for the mall’s Chinese New Year decorations. She would not disclose the theme. “It’s a secret, I’m sure you’ll understand.”
She said Christmas decorations would be taken down soon after the new year, and the transition to Chinese New Year is only about two weeks.
Katai Import and Export Sdn Bhd is one of Sarawak’s best known and oldest festive decorations retailers. The family-owned enterprise, which has been in business for over 40 years, is presently headed by Jong Yean Pin.
The second generation owner said sales for Christmas items really took off around 10 years ago. “Before, Chinese New Year sales was the dominant festive season for us. Nowadays, sales for Christmas and Chinese New Year are about the same,” Jong said.
Katai has for a decade sold out all its Christmas trees every year.
“All I have left now are small 4ft trees; everything else is gone. Christmas sales have been increasing every year.”
Jong attributed the increase to higher income levels and locals having more opportunities to travel overseas.
“My family and I frequently go to Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand to discover festive trends. We try to bring back ideas we believe locals might like.
“Customers don’t come to us just wanting to buy any tree anymore. They’ll tell you, ‘Oh, my theme is red and silver’ and if you don’t have it, you will lose business.”