PETALING JAYA, May 15 — Hari Raya is just days away.
And with it, comes the annual tradition of purchasing new “Raya clothes” to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
This year things are a little different, however, as the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed Hari Raya plans for many Malaysians — including going out to shop for new clothes.
Qaira Holdings Sdn Bhd marketing executive Miqdad Abdul Walad told Malay Mail that the organisation’s businesses have suffered, even as the Raya season approaches, because of the qualms many Malaysians have about the virus.
“To be honest, the movement control order (MCO) has affected our business. Our sales have cut down by almost 50 per cent,” said Miqdad.
“We’ve had to reduce some of our prices to be in par with our other competitors during this crisis.”
Qaira Holdings runs nine Qaira Hijab outlets around Malaysia, selling Muslim women apparel including shawls, blouses, baju kurung and kebaya, with stores located in Johor, Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Perak, Selangor and Terengganu.
Miqdad, 26, also said it was harder to push sales with Hari Raya promotions available despite the conditional MCO as customers were wary of venturing outdoors.
“Our target customers are mostly around the age of 30 to 60 and they prefer to come down to the store to make a purchase,” he said.
“It’s harder for us now because customers can’t use the fitting room under the new SOPs. No fitting sessions are allowed, so it is important for them to refer to measurements from our website before coming to the store.”
Miqdad said that all Qaira staff and customers are advised to take needful measures to ensure their own safety and that they adhere to the new SOPs.
“We limit it to four customers per session. Before they enter, their temperature and details will also be recorded, and their hands will be sanitised,” said Miqdad.
He added that all returned items will also be sanitised once received, in order to keep all products safe for everyone.
However, even with stores open, Miqdad has advised customers to shop online if possible to reduce their time spent outdoors, as all of their clothing items were available on their website and e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada.
MyPapillon Hijab Boutique co-founder Haslinda Md Isa reciprocated Miqdad’s advice as she said that “online is the way to go” when purchasing new Raya clothes this year.
“From my point of view, online purchases are better for now. No contact or whatsoever happens during online transactions,” said Haslinda.
“People can still come to shop at our outlet, but only if they follow the SOPs and take precautions as recommended by the Health Ministry.”
MyPapillon is located in Subang Parade in Subang Jaya and was founded in 2018 by Haslinda and her husband Mohd Rizal, with the aim of bringing refined and luxurious shawls and from designer boutiques to the public.
Haslinda, 45, who also teaches French in UiTM Shah Alam, added that the MCO has affected her future plans to develop the MyPapillon brand, with funds now being channelled towards sustaining the company during this difficult time.
“Obviously the pandemic has affected business worldwide, and we aren’t spared from it,” she said.
“We were set to participate in Mood Republik, one of the biggest Raya expositions in the country, but it can’t happen anymore and so many of our plans for the Raya season have to be postponed or cancelled.
“We’ve also had to postpone our Raya collection since a lot of extra work would need to be put into it to make sure it runs smoothly.”
Haslinda said that they’ve managed to get by during the pandemic thanks to sales on their online platforms.
“It will surely take some time to fully recover from this and it won’t be in the immediate future. While offline sales are less than the usual, online sales are increasing since people are afraid to go out,” she said.
The MyPapillon outlet is now open under CMCO order directives, as Haslinda said that customers will also have to follow the strict SOPs if they want to physically shop.
“Fittings are also not allowed but we do have hijab measurements provided for every collection,” said Haslinda.
“Although those who are not familiar with our hijabs will face some difficulties if they usually try it on before purchasing.”
Haslinda added that she needs to step up her game plan to keep her business alive and hopes that there will be some form of aid from government bodies to assist SMEs like hers.