Present-ing Christmas gifts – Nation

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 Yuletide cheer is in full throttle at shopping malls, with electronic goods, fashion accessories and beauty products being top picks for gifts among shoppers. 

HURRY down the chimney tonight, Santa!

Celebrants are eager to unwrap the presents and share the joy with their loved ones on Christmas Day tomorrow.

The air of revelry is felt in shopping malls throughout the country, with some seeing an increase of about 10% in visitor traffic.

Apparently, most Christmas shoppers have been going for digital devices, cosmetics and fashion accessories as gifts.

“The most popular items are IT gadgets, watches, fashion accessories and toys,” says the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia) in an email interview.

With malls having more visitors during the year’s end, the association notes that several long weekends beginning from the end of November have encouraged consumers to get more shopping done.

This is due to public and state holidays such as Prophet Muhammad’s birthday which fell on a Friday (Dec 1), and the Sultan of Selangor’s birthday on a Monday (Dec 11).

Data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia also showed that the retail trade business has increased by 10.9% in sales value to RM37.8bil in October compared to the same period last year.

And while some may say the economy has slowed down, Malaysians still tend to spend more at the end of the year compared to other months, says PPK Malaysia.

“Despite economic challenges, the Christmas season is still a meaningful time for people.

“Shopping malls are one of the main public venues which bring people together.

“While shoppers are more cautious in spending, it’s still a time for giving and sharing,” says the association, made up of over 400 members nationwide.

It also observes that shoppers want value for their money, so they tend to look out for freebies from malls like redemption gifts and contest prizes.

Another crowd-puller in shopping malls here are the breathtaking Christmas decorations put up to evoke a festive feel.

“Our malls always try to be creative to provide the best ambience for the consumer’s shopping experience,” the association says.

Concurring with the popular items this year, Sunway Malls and Theme Parks chief executive officer H.C. Chan singles out cosmetics, accessories and digital goods as among the top choices for gifts this season.

Based on redemption records in Sunway Pyramid, the company has noted a significant number of consumers who spend money in shops selling electronic gadgets.

But beauty products and fashion items are also hot picks among shoppers at its five malls in the Klang Valley and Penang.

Accessories such as jewellery, handbags, wallets and footwear are at the top of the shopping list, says Chan.

“Be it Korean, Japanese, American or European brands, cosmetics and accessories such as jewellery pieces are popular gifts among women.

“Gifts for men tend to be leather goods, t-shirts and personal care,” he says.

Another area that will see brisk business this time of year is the food and beverage industry.

“We have seen such businesses gain traction these past few years. We expect food and beverage outlets to perform well this year end,” Chan says.

With most Malaysians in a holi­day mood, consumers are likely to spend more time and money at malls.

Customers at Sunway Pyramid usually spend about 13% to 23% more between November and December compared to the average expenditure in other months.

“There is usually an eight to 10% increase in traffic during these two months as well. For this year, we believe there will be an extra 20% in traffic into the mall, due to e-hailing apps like GrabCar and Uber,” Chan says.

Consumers also spend an average of about three and a half hours in the mall in November and December – one hour longer than during non-festive periods, he adds.

“Today’s malls are more than just functional. They are becoming more focused on providing good consumer experience due to the public’s higher expectations and lifestyle changes.

“We recognise this is an important facet to stay relevant,” Chan explains.

However, there is no denying that online retailing is growing and it’s here to stay.

“It’s still in its infancy but there is a lot of latent demand. Online shopping is convenient and fast but the offline experience engages the five senses.

“Malls can capitalise on harnessing these aspects,” he says.

And after getting their shopping done, Malaysians look forward to celebrating and re-connecting with family and friends.

Following an annual Christmas tradition, medical doctor Dr D. Anusha says she will be exchanging gifts with her best friend over a meal.

“It’s something we do every year but to make things easy, we normally ask each other what we want.

“This year, she wanted a voucher from a hair saloon and I wanted a voucher for make-up,” says the 34-year-old.

Aside from this, Anusha says she is also eager to relax and watch heartwarming Christmas movies during the break.

Purchasing manager Mitchell Chee, whose company had a Christmas gift exchange recently, noticed that many of his colleagues gave away digital goods like smart watches, travel chargers, drones and power banks as presents.

“Some also bought novelty food items like premium chocolates, homemade peanut butter and salted egg fish skin crackers,” he adds.

Chee, 32, says it is no surprise that gadgets are becoming a common choice for presents since everything hinges on technology these days.

As a Christmas present, Chee bought his girlfriend a pair of high quality headphones so that she could listen to music and watch shows from her laptop.

“Beauty products are also popular presents nowadays because most people want to look good in pictures shared on social media,” he says.

A company executive, who wishes to be known only as Jean, is buying a karaoke microphone for her father as he loves to sing.

“I also plan to buy some skincare products, make-up and chocolates for my friends and family members,” she says.

Saying that Christmas is her favourite time of year, Jean is looking forward to being with her family during the holidays.

“I love the songs, the mood and the decorations too.”

But while she makes an effort to buy Christmas gifts every year, Jean, 32, is actually not very fond of the task.

“Gifts are like your best guess on what a person may like. But even with your best guess, they may not like or use what you bought.”

“To me, the best gift is to spend quality time with your loved ones this Christmas,” she says.

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