Waiting for last minute Deepavali buyers

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With Deepavali around the corner, traders in Johor Baru are hoping for better sales in the coming weeks despite the unpredictable weather conditions.

A. Maithili, who runs a family business selling textiles, jewelry and other traditional products, said business has been good, with customers coming not only from Johor but also from across the border.

“We recently opened a new shop offering sewing services.

“This is in addition to our two existing stores.

“In just three days, we received more than 20 custom clothing orders.

“On top of that, textile sales have been encouraging with people making big purchases for Deepavali since the third week of September.

“We expect to see more orders in the coming weeks as Deepavali approaches,” said the 24-year-old he met at the Jalan Trus store, Johor Baru.

Maithili puts the clothes away in the family shop.

However, Maithili said the buying rush for Deepavali appeared to be happening later this year compared to the pre-Covid-19 pandemic era.

“Previously, people would start preparing months in advance, even seven months earlier in some cases.

“This year, however, we only see people buying Deepavali about a month before the festival,” she said.

The manager of a traditional clothing and textile store, A. Arumugam, 65, said he planned to extend the store’s opening hours to cope with the expected increase in demand.

“In addition to selling textiles and ready-to-wear, we also provide tailoring services.

“Orders have been pouring in since the last week of September and we may have to refuse some if we find that we cannot cope.

“We are currently open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. but we can extend until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.,” he said.

Arumugam noted that while sales had improved, it was too early to tell if they would reach pre-pandemic volume.

“Deepavali used to be a very good time for business here, mainly due to the large crowds we get from Singapore.

“Unfortunately, things have completely changed because of Covid-19.

“This is the first Deepavali since the reopening of the borders.

“It’s too early to tell if sales will return to what we had in the good old days, but we’re hoping for the best,” he added.

S. Sures, 49, who also works in the clothing and textile trade, said business is expected to improve in the last two weeks ahead of Deepavali.

“Deepavali Bazaar was set up earlier this month and there have been some improvements, with sales coming in from both locals and those in Singapore.

“However, we are still far from pre-pandemic times and the rainy weather may have also contributed to the situation.

“I think we will only see significant changes as Deepavali gets closer,” he said.

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