In a few weeks’ time, the seventh lunar month will be upon us. While many Chinese Singaporeans will be continuing the tradition of burning joss paper, retailers have some bad news.
There will be an increase of 10% to 15% for joss paper and related items this year.
This is largely due to the sharp increase in shipping costs, which have almost doubled.
Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, Ban Kah Hiang Trading’s owner Mr Zhang said shipping costs have doubled recently, leaving them with no choice but to push up prices.
Besides that, the recent surge in oil prices has led to increasing candle and lamp oil prices. These items have had a price increase of between 20% and 30%.
But Mr Zhang said most of their customers are elderly folks sensitive to price increases so they capped their price increase to at most 15%, reported Oriental Daily.
Echoing similar challenges, Chye Seng Joss Papers & Joss Sticks owner Mr Wang said overall, the cost of items has increased between 15% and 20%.
Candles and other oil-related items have seen a staggering increase of 30%.
However, in a bid to retain customers during the peak seventh-month period, the store decided on a price hike between 10% and 15%.
Despite the rise in prices, many store owners are expecting demand for joss paper to be higher this Hungry Ghost Festival compared to the past two years.
Oriental Daily reported that industry players believe more will be participating in the festival this year since Covid-19 restrictions have been eased.
Ming Yuan Religious Products Pte Ltd owner Mr Wang said he believes this year, many communities and organisations will resume Hungry Ghost Festival activities. The store has already begun receiving such orders.
They estimate that demand will increase between 30% and 40%, and hence have increased the volume of their store’s products by about 40%.
Mr Zhang from Ban Kah Hiang Trading brought in 50% more products than last year.
He shared that several customers said they have not properly worshipped during the seventh month for two years. This year, many will be looking to make up for it. Some even asked him to follow their 2019 orders.
But other stores like Chye Seng Joss Papers & Joss Sticks estimate a more conservative 20% increase in demand compared to last year, and hence ordered 20% more products.
Burning joss paper during the seventh lunar month is a treasured and important tradition for many.
While this price increase is not ideal, it seems store owners are also doing their best to cope with the price hikes.
Hopefully, with mutual understanding, customers and store owners will be able to tide through this challenging economic climate.
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Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News on Facebook and The Smart Local.
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