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Prices rise during mourning

Prices rise during mourning

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Floral wreaths with King Sihanouk’s photo sold in a market in Phnom Penh during the official mourning period. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Flower prices soared considerably due to the official mourning period of Cambodia’s former king, Norodom Sihanouk, according to vendors.

Crowds of people set upon flower shops at different markets in Phnom Penh, where tens of thousands of mourners participated in paying their respects to the former king during the returning ceremony of his body from China yesterday.

Lach Sophea, a 32-year-old vendor near Wat Preah Buddha Mean Bon near Olympic Stadium, said the prices for flowers increased from 2,500 riel to 3,500 riel (about $0.63 to $0.88) per bunch.

“Flower prices just jumped last night because new flowers just arrived,” she said.

According to her, prices started to rise yesterday, when King Father Sihanouk’s body was returned to Cambodia and Cambodians gathered to mourn.

In just one morning, she sold 1,000 bundles excluding the decorative wreaths surrounding the photos of the king. Ribbons also increased from the regular price of 300 riel to over 400 or 500 riel.

Another flower shop owner, Vy Nech, 40, said flower sales increased about ten-fold compared to regular days. She also sold 20,000 units of ribbon  yesterday and she expects total sales to reach 40,000 units during the entire mourning period.

“If compared to a normal day, today [Wednesday] sales are extreme,” she said, adding “Buyers don’t hesitate even with the high prices for the  better decorations. They want good ones, so they don’t bargain.”

Khiev Chantha, 57, a vendor at O’Russey Market where she has been established since 1994, said she just restarted selling flowers again after the Pchum Ben holiday.

She said that she could only buy roses from wholesalers, because other flowers were already sold out.

Prices for roses doubled yesterday from 40,000 riel to 80,000 riel per 100 stems. Her retail price is 1,500 riel per stem.

Hai Heang, an official at Department of Public Works and Transportation in Phnom Penh, said he had ordered a wreath of flowers with a photo of King Sihanouk which cost over $50.

He said, “Upon receiving the news of King Father’s death, I felt shocked and this spending is not a problem because it is a one off spend.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]

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