‘$1, $1! Just $1!’: A look at what happens to unsold Chinese New Year goodies

SINGAPORE – “One dollar, one dollar! Just one dollar!” 

In the days leading up to the eve of Chinese New Year, Temple Street is a sea of slashed prices. Snacks that used to retail for $10 a tub now go for $5. And if you are buying in bulk, $20 can get you five boxes of cookies that originally cost $6 each. 

This is the final hurrah – a last-ditch effort by stall owners to clear their goods before the end of the Chinatown Bazaar, which folded on Chinese New Year’s eve. 

In 2024, the urgency to sell is greater than ever. “Business is about 20 per cent worse than last year,” says Mr Xiao Yong, 33, who mans a snack stall in front of Hotel 1888 Collection. “There is a lot of footfall, but no one wants to buy.” 

According to another employee in her 20s, who wanted to be known only as Ms Tan, the stall has already cut the amount of food it orders from suppliers in the light of waning demand. 

Still, on the second-last day of the fair on Feb 8, stacks of pineapple tarts, cashew cookies, egg rolls and many other biscuits remain. 

For first-time stallholders, this is a disappointing showing. 

“Business is a lot slower than I expected,” says Ms Li, another snack vendor in her 30s, who gave only her surname.

“But I suppose many people are struggling with the rising cost of living this year, so they don’t have much cash to spare for snacks.” 

While Mr Xiao will try to peddle his leftover goods elsewhere – “As long as they haven’t expired, they can be sold!” is his war cry – Ms Li, who sells nuts in large, open sacks, is less optimistic.

“I might have to discard whatever I can’t sell by the end of the bazaar,” she says.

A season of excess 

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