Jakarta – Vendors at Tanah Abang, Southeast Asia's biggest textile market, in Central Jakarta said that they enjoyed better sales during the Ramadan holy month. However, they were dissatisfied with overall sales compared to the previous year.
Many vendors had their own take when it came to the factors contributing to slower sales. Some have argued that higher airline ticket prices have made customers from other regions reluctant to travel to Jakarta, in addition to the rise of online shopping and insecurity caused by postelection riots on May 21 and 22 in front of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) on Jl. MH Thamrin that spread to Petamburan, which is close to the market.
West Sumatran Harny, a 43-year-old owner of three shoe kiosks, said that higher airline ticket prices was one of the major factors that led to lower purchases by resellers from various towns in Indonesia.
"Many of them complained of the higher airline ticket prices. However regular customers from Greater Jakarta still come here since prices are much lower compared to the malls," Harny told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Despite enjoying better sales during the fasting month, Harny said that it was still low compared to previous years. "One of my customers from Medan [North Sumatra] used to come to Jakarta every month, but now, they only come once a year because sales were bad."
Airline ticket prices have been in the spotlight since earlier this year, when people filed complaints on price surges.
Harny added many of the vendors in Tanah Abang and other markets felt doubtful about the prospects of selling new items.
Competition from online stores was also one of the challenges that she faced since she preferred the traditional ways of selling, adding that she planned to go online in order to compete with other vendors.
Dini, a 21-year-old vendor from Padang, West Sumatra argued online competition had contributed to lower sales, despite enjoying up to a 50 percent increase in sales during Ramadan.
"I am already comfortable this way [offline selling], in which the customers and the products are visible," she said. "It will be difficult to manage online sales since we would have to check whether the items had been delivered safely."
Many of her customers are wholesalers from provinces such as those in Sumatra and Sulawesi, and even other countries such as Malaysia.
Despite the seemingly bleak sales, vendors of Muslim attire have been enjoying significant sales increases during the holy month.
Johnny, a 25-year-old mukena (head-to-toe woman's prayer gowns) seller, said he experienced a 70 percent increase in sales, but he also regretted the skyrocketing airline ticket prices which had prevented many of his regional customers from coming to Jakarta.
Dini, a 19-year-old vendor from Pelabuhan Ratu in Sukabumi, West Java, experienced a 70 percent increase in her gamis (Islamic gowns) sales in May alone, saying it was better when compared to last year's figure.
She had also tried selling online, however, her kiosk was still her main focus.
Vendors of other types of clothing were not so lucky, saying the riots adversely affected sales. Tanah Abang market was closed for days after the riots. The vendors lost Rp 200 billion per day because of the closure.
Weni, 23, who sells sports clothing, said that her kiosk experienced slower sales this year, adding that they had to close the store for three days following the riots
Speaking in the same tone, Wida, 27, who sells polo shirts, said that her kiosk's sales decreased 20 percent compared to the previous year due to lower purchases from local customers.
Also, Hariyanto, 47, a batik vendor, said that he regretted the riots because it hurt his sales, despite already experiencing better sales during Ramadan.
"It was quite significant. It should have been crowded but people were scared to come," he added. "However, after the riots, everything went back to normal and people just forgot about it."
Meanwhile, Yanti, 30, a school uniform vendor from Banjarnegara, Central Java, hoped that the start of the new school year in July would land her better sales. (tkp)