KUCHING: With less than two weeks to go until Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrants are contemplating whether to shop early or leave it till the last minute.

Retail stores, markets, and shopping malls are already starting to get lots of customers looking for clothes, food and drinks, decorative items, and various other stuffs deemed necessary for the celebrations.

Pauline Mening Lutang, 55, has started her Gawai preparations starting with some “kek lapis” and biscuits.

Pauline Mening Lutang

“I am looking to add drinks and clothes to my shopping list,” she said.

The Kenyah matron pointed out that by shopping early, she could avoid large crowds and the last-minute rush.

“I admit that last minute shopping has its benefit as the sellers often give bigger discounts,” she said.

When asked on the prices of this year’s goods, she admitted that she hasn’t been watching them and was therefore unaware of whether they had gone up or down.

Another shopper, Zarina Shuib, 36, said she has not started preparing for the Hari Raya Aidilfitri as her business takes precedence during the fasting month.

Zarina Shuib

The “kek lapis” seller said that her preparations for this year is “ala kadar” (simple) because she has to focus on her business at India Street during the day and then at Satok at night.

“Admittedly, I’m more of a last-minute shopper. Regardless, I already know what things to buy. I will buy groceries and ingredients for ‘rendang’ and ‘ketupat’, that’s for sure. For my guests I intend to buy biscuits and various snacks such as peanuts,” she said.

On the benefits of early shopping, Zarina pointed out that there is no rush or hassle.

“Even then, there are people who deliberately wait until the last hour hoping that sellers would offer their goods at lower prices. This usually happens at Satok bazaar,” she said.

Norzuraizah Yusuf also has not started preparations for the festive period. The 30-year-old business owner said that she is planning to buy food and new clothes for her children.

Norzuraizah Yusuf

“It’s still quite early in the fasting month. We still have around two weeks to go until Hari Raya Aidilfitri. I don’t worry about such things for now,” she said.

“Typically, I go shopping at the very last minute, usually the evening before the day itself when there are clearance sales.”

Asked if she noticed the prices of groceries have gone up prior to the festive seasons, Norzuraizah said there is a noticeable increase in prices of non-controlled items compared to last year.

“Some groceries were cheaper last year. The prices have increased,” she said.

Malcolm Mathaus Moses, a 24-year-old student from a local higher learning institution simply replied in the negative when asked whether he has made preparations for the Gawai Dayak.

Malcolm Mathaus Moses

Still, the Bidayuh-Iban Betong native agreed that early shopping is a good way to avoid caught up in long queues.

“We can plan ahead when we do shop early compared to when we do it at the last minute,” he said.

“Prices might be lower at the last minute, but the downside is you have to ‘fight’ over whatever stock is available.”

On prices generally, he thought that they have remained constant.

“Prices of necessities like food and drinks have not been seen any changes. I’m planning to buy cooking supplies, some ‘kuih’ and drinks,” he said.

Awang Mohamed Hazim thought that with early shopping, the public can choose carefully.

Awang Mohamed Hazim

The 24-year-old Malay of Bruneian descent added that shoppers can also ensure that the goods that they are planning to buy are in stock.

“It’s great that sellers often lower their prices for last minute buyers,” he said when asked about why he passed up lower prices when shopping at the last minute.

“However, with last minute shopping I can only choose a limited number of items compared to when I buy them earlier.”

He noted that some items showed an increase in prices this year compared to last year but not drastically.

“I’m still looking for clothes and food items. If there are other things that catch my attention, I will consider buying them,” he said.