Bleak times for traders at Hari Raya bazaar

SLOW sales, stiffer competition, rainy weather and a dreary economy have hurt business at the Hari Raya bazaar in Geylang Serai, many stallholders say. 

They hope business will pick up before the month-long bazaar ends on Tuesday in the early hours of Hari Raya. 

Mohamed Arshad Mohamed Yaqoob, 46, an 18-year bazaar veteran, said: “In previous years, you could easily make about three to five times more. I also noticed that during weekends at this year's bazaar, it's not as crowded as in past years when you could hardly squeeze through.” 

He said he had chalked up only S$40,000 (RM88,000) in sales but thinks he can generate S$20,000 (RM44000) more of business in the last week. 

But Noor Aziza Rafeek, 44, who has sold traditional wear such as baju kurung, cushions and bedsheets there for 13 years, said: “This is the worst year of all.” 

She claimed she used to make at least 30% profit. Now, she's just hoping to break even. 

She said she'd halved prices of her baju kurung, but the merchandise was not moving. 

This year, she may sell only 400 for around S$20 (RM44) each.  

Last year, she said, she could sell 1,000 pieces for about S$65 (RM143) each. 

Rent on her two stalls comes up to S$65,000 (RM143,000) for the month, she said, and she had borrowed money to raise the rent.  

She said: “It's been raining a lot this month. When it rains, I can't display my goods, and fewer people come to buy. Every day, five or six people tell me they can't spend because they've been retrenched and need to buy children's uniforms and schoolbooks in December.” 

Philip Wong, 48, project director of the Malay Village Hari Raya Trade Fair and the Galaxy Makan Parade, both located across the road, said: “More than half of the 80 stallholders at Malay Village have told me sales have been slow. The hardest hit are those selling clothing.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

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