Wednesday, January 29, 2014

TIGHTENING THE BELT IN THE YEAR OF THE HORSE

With the rising cost of living, and more price hikes expected after the Chinese New Year (CNY), many Chinese families have already begun tightening their belts a notch or two. From mandarin oranges to preserved waxed duck and sunflower seeds, practically every CNY food item has gone up in price. For example, pineapple tarts which are a CNY staple, are selling for RM27 a small container. There are definitely smaller crowds shopping for Chinese New Year goodies.

The malls may be packed, but I suspect many families are there either to window-shop or soak in the festive ambience. The bright red and gold decorations, the loud CNY songs celebrating the arrival of a new year, the pulsating beat of the drums for the lion dances and the acrobatic performances - all these can be enjoyed without paying a cent. But when it comes to shopping for the Chinese New Year, it is evident that most people are purchasing only the essentials, or going for cheaper alternatives. Luxury items and expensive decorations for the  house are out.

This photo was taken on 27 January - four days before the Chinese New Year, at the concourse of one of the city's premier up-market malls. Not a single shopper in sight. That little girl on the left is actually a mannequin.

I wouldn't be surprised if more families are opting to usher in the Year of the Horse with the traditional reunion dinner at home rather than at a pricey restaurant, and relegating shopping for new clothes to a lower spot on their To-Do priority list.

The queues at the banks for new currency notes are noticeably shorter too, from what I have observed. Married couples and the elderly will probably be withdrawing fewer big notes this year for ang-pows (red money packets) for the children. Some folks are planning to give their unmarried adult children and relatives lottery tickets in lieu of currency notes for their ang pows. Not a bad idea. A RM3 lottery ticket might win them anything from RM50 to the jackpot prize of RM22,500,000!

Prices for Chinese New Year dinners can range from RM518++ to RM2188++.  The number '8' is an auspicious number.
What you pay for yee sang (raw fish salad) this year. I wonder what next year's prices will be, with the introduction of the GST (Goods and Services Tax)
A CNY hamper can easily set you back several hundred ringgit, unless you want to be a cheapskate and get one stuffed with generic brands of biscuits and non-alcoholic wine.

If you want to know what the Year of the Horse has in store for you, read Joey Yap's horoscope predictions for 2014. This might just be your lucky year!


4 comments:

Robyn Lee said...

I feel prices are going up everywhere although retailers here in Australia recorded a better year than for the past few.

I just hope you and everyone else enjoys CNY anyway...I love that festival, it's so loud and colourful! :)

Justin Choo said...

You would be surprised that all the popular restaurants are fully booked. Of course, people like me, retired with no pension, and no financial support from anyone, will be frugal, no restaurant food.

el-f said...

Justin, that's because the lady of the house either doesn't cook or find it a hassle to prepare special dishes for the reunion dinner, not to mention the piles of dishes to wash after the dinner! :-)

Allen Ng said...

Unlike previous years when my family is used to celebrating the customary reunion dinner by eating out at a restaurant this year we are cooking the dinner ourselves to save cost. When in the past we used to buy CNY cookies from the stores this year we are making limited quantity of pineapple tarts and other assorted cookies by ourselves. With skyrocketing inflation times are getting hard to come by and it's a constant challenge to balance the household budget even to maintain a simple lifestyle. Nevertheless, for better or worse life has to go on.

Happy CNY 2014. May the year of the Horse bring good health, happiness and prosperity to all.