Online shopping a healthy competition for traditional stores

|      Azlan Othman     |

THOUGH it’s still early days in the holy month of Ramadhan, Muslims have begun planning for their Hari Raya purchases to avoid the festive shopping rush.

More Bruneians are now shopping online for new Raya clothes, a trend that is creating a healthy competition for local traditional shops and department stores, especially for products such as tudong (headscarves) and baju kurung.

But there are those who still prefer to head to their favourite tailor shops, months before Ramadhan to avoid disappointment.

Brick-and-mortar stores are offering great bargains as well during the festive season.

Bazilah, a part-time saleswoman, said she prefers to go to the tailor shop rather than shop online for clothes as it’s hard to judge the material, stitching or quality of the items solely based on the photos.

“Buying online is risky, the items may not fit… it is troublesome too if they need to be returned, provided that the online store has a return policy. But different online stores offer different items and it’s fun to explore at our own convenience at home instead of going to shopping malls,” she said.

As for cookies and cakes, Bruneians usually order these from sellers they know. Many of buyers are repeat customers. Orders and purchases are usually carried out through social media and WhatsApp – these have become popular mediums for vendors to promote their products.

“Hari Raya is more about family gatherings and catching up with family and friends. That is the most important for us, and the colourful offerings of cakes and cookies brighten the annual visits,” said Sharimin, a public servant, adding that he is not looking to buy new furniture for the celebration as it is not a necessity.

Bruneians are still purchasing their Hari Raya necessities now across the border in Miri, Sarawak or Kota Kinabalu, Sabah despite Malaysia’s planned abolishment of its Goods and Services Tax (GST) beginning on June 1.

Many have the opinion that there won’t be much difference whether they spend now or next month. Others feel it’s better to wait until June to properly gauge the tax situation.

Jamal, a local farmer, said it was alright to buy the items needed for the celebration now, especially with promotions offered at stores in neighbouring towns across the border.