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Election time: spend or save?

A vendor showcases budget friendly footwear
A vendor showcases budget friendly footwear to a potential customer at a shoe stall in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district last year. Vireak Mai

Election time: spend or save?

The frenzied lead-up to national elections may have shaken consumer confidence as business owners and spenders worry over the heightening contest between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

With a comparably less violent pre-election period, however, the declines have not been as bad as in previous years.

Seng Limkunthea, the 35-year-old owner of Seng Sok Heng construction and machinery materials near Chroy Changvar Bridge, said she has observed a 50 per cent decline in business over the past few weeks.

“People want to hold on to money during the period, because they think that if something happens, they won’t have money in their hands,” Limkunthea said.

“Some buyers just delay their buying, because they are afraid,” she said, adding that she was surprised to see the drop, given the level of stability now.

“I believe that the situation will return to normal after the election, in about one month,” she said, adding, “what are we afraid of?”

Thai Hor, of Tea Kim Chou jewelry and exchange near Phsar Kandal, said that he had noticed a slight drop in the past week.

Din Virak, the managing director of V Capital Institute, a Phnom Penh-based business development consultancy, said that while there may be a slight downturn in retail as people spent money on political campaigns, he was confident that greater stability meant people were not as cautious as they were in the past.

“People spend in one way or another during the period of the election.”

ACLEDA Bank CEO In Channy acknowledges that there may have been some nervousness around previous elections, but things were different now.

“It’s regular, it’s normal, when I look in to the savings there is no change, there is no irregularity,” he said. “In previous elections, people used to worry, and make sure they have more stock at home.”

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