Retail boom at holiday time

A woman browsers lanterns at Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market
A woman browsers lanterns at Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market yesterday in preparation for Lunar New Year. Vireak Mai

Retail boom at holiday time

As millions of Cambodians prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations, Phnom Penh retailers say residents are spending more on the 2015 festivities than ever before.

The festivities, which begin today, have been a boon for Kheng Sovannara, a fruit shop owner near the Olympic Stadium.

While his shop usually sells about 20 boxes of fruit per day, sales have jumped to about 100 boxes over the past few days, he said.

“We have reached our best sales this week,” Sovannara said, adding that people were spending more now than at the same time last year when the country was engulfed in a tense political situation. “We are busy, it’s even hard to find a good time to eat lunch. I think Wednesday’s sales will be the best in this week.”

Sovannara’s story is not unique.

Tong An, another fruit seller based near Olympic Stadium, said prices had gone up thanks to the rising demand, with the average bulk shopper spending $20 or more.

“Prices of all kinds of goods have increased a lot, some even by half,” he said. “But there are still many people who even buy more than last year.”

Keng Sophorn, a pork and duck seller in Boeung Kak Kong market, agreed,

He said that by yesterday, roast pork and roast duck prices had increased from 40,000 riel ($10) to 50,000 riel from their usual price, although prices for lower-quality pork had stayed the same at 20,000 riel.

“I believe that tomorrow will be even better,” Sophorn added.

Several other market vendors the Post spoke to reported similar increases in business this year.

Independent economist Srey Chanthy told the Post that a dip in petrol prices had helped lower-income Cambodians increase their purchasing power.

“The drop in oil prices has helped consumers save for the ceremony,” he said. “The government’s decision to raise garment factory wages is also a good way to boost spending.”

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