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Khmer New Year retail sales plummet

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Though people across the Kingdom are set to buy food and drinks for the festivities from April 13-16, it won’t be the same as last year. Hean Rangsey

Khmer New Year retail sales plummet

Retailers in Phnom Penh have complained about reduced sales ahead of Khmer New Year as people tighten their expenses over fears of the spread of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday announced the postponement of the Khmer New Year holidays as the Kingdom seeks to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. However, ancestral ceremonies were allowed to be held at home as usual.

Though people across the Kingdom are set to buy food and drinks for the festivities from April 13-16, it won’t be the same as last year.

Hak Layheak, a vendor selling vegetables, food and assorted groceries, told The Post that sales are down compared to this time last year and that people are not spending as much because of the coronavirus.

“I am not selling very well. I can sell some items but not as well as last year and my revenue is down. I’ve noticed that candles and incense are not selling as well as groceries during this time,” she said.

Mey Ranath, 56, a food vendor in the city, said the pandemic has battered her business over the past three months.

Recent factory closures have cost tens of thousands of workers their jobs, which comprise a substantial portion of her clientele, she said.

“Rice and meat sales used to be good, especially close to the Khmer New Year celebration. I’d sell about 30 tin cans of rice and more than 10kg of meat a day.

“But now I sell around 10 cans of rice per day, so I’m worried that I won’t be able to afford the next payment on my bank loan,” she said.

Khim Song, the founder of Idol Coffee, which has four branches in the city, said business activities have slowed down. This is partly a result of having to close one branch at Chbar Ampov market after the Ministry of Health confirmed a positive case of Covid-19 nearby.

“The branch used to sell well, but since the authorities found a case of Covid-19 in the area, it has become quiet, so I decided to close it.

“I was selling on average between 60 and 80 cups of coffee per day and it used to be much higher than that close to Khmer New Year,” she said.

Another vendor, who asked not to be named, said certain commodities had gone up in price despite the general drop in sales.

“Most of the goods imported from Vietnam and Thailand such as canned mackerel and noodles fetch high prices. A dozen cans of mackerel cost 30,000 riel ($7.50) and it continues to increase,” he said.

The government recently banned exports of white rice, paddy and fishery products in an effort to maintain food security and keep prices down amid the health crisis.

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