The celebration of Christmas may not be widespread in Cambodia, but Phnom Penh’s shop owners have adopted at least one major trend associated with the Western holiday season: big sales.
The practice is a noticeable contrast from the price increases that consumers usually see – most often in food – during Cambodian holidays such as Khmer and Chinese New Year and Pchum Ben.
But December discounts have caught on in the capital, as businesses aim to capture a portion of the increased shopping that typically takes place in other countries.
“We always discount our products at each festival, and in particular at the year’s end to attract more customers,” Kan Chan Raksmey, an employee at Raksmey Style Co, said.
Price cuts vary from product to product, she said, but clothes are discounted as much as 20 per cent. Still, she noted that consumer traffic can jump 20 per cent during her sales.
Chhay Hok, president of Chhay Hok Computer, said his discounts range between 10 and 15 per cent during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
While the sales can subtract from his business’ earnings, he said he continues to offer them because they draw customers to his store.
The same goes for Heng Sony, a sales manager at International Book Shop, who has cut book prices as much as 50 per cent this month. This has boosted his store visitor numbers by between 20 and 30 per cent, he said.
Tho Vuthy, who was recently buying clothes on sale at Style World Shop, said he looked forward to the sales.
“The discounts are a good opportunity for me because I don’t have enough money to spend on regularly priced clothes right now,” he said.
While business owners talk up the importance of drawing customers, University of Cambodia business and economics lecturer Chheng Kimlong said the main aim is to clear out inventory.
“It is a company strategy. They need to empty their products from stock,” he said.
Still, customers seem to be the winners with these sales, according to Chheng Kimlong. Stock reductions aside, he sees the sales as a chance for businesses to reward loyal customers.
“If the product quality is good, and the price is right, it benefits the local consumers.”