Despite the large-scale social restrictions imposed in West Java province, a local market in Tasikmalaya city today attracted throngs of people as many are stocking up groceries in anticipation of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
“It was quiet before. The number of buyers starts increasing only in the past two days before fasting starts. Now it gets so crowded and full of buyers,” said Asep, a vendor in Pasar Cikurubuk, on Thursday morning (23 April).
It is uncommon for Indonesian to buy plenty of food to stock before the fasting month starts. Usually, the local markets are reportedly crowded towards the end of Ramadan or before Hari Raya.
Mr Asep opined that COVID-19 has affected this change in buyer’s behaviour.
“Now it looks like Hari Raya [is coming]. Many people buy groceries in bulk. Probably they buy plenty to stock up so that they won’t need to go shopping anymore during the coronavirus pandemic,” Asep said.
It was reported that the most crowded stalls in Pasar Induk Cikurubuk are the meat and fish vendors.
Imas Munaah, 52, from Karangnunggal district said that she engaged in bulk-buying of groceries not only to stock up for Ramadan, but also because “the price is way cheaper than another market in my district”.
“I also intentionally buy the groceries in bulk so that I won’t need to return to this market. Now is corona season, so I am afraid of going outside the house,” she added.
Separately, Singapore and Malaysia have also cancelled Ramadan bazaars due to the current COVID-19 situation.
These bazaars are known for selling a wide variety of food, festive clothes, and household decorations.
While the month-long annual Ramadan bazaar and even the Hari Raya bazaar have been cancelled by the People’s Association (PA) in Singapore, e-bazaar applications have been popping up recently, enabling buyers to buy the bazaar goods online.
In Malaysia, not only are the regular Ramadan bazaars banned — even stalls, drive-thru or pick-and-pack systems are prohibited by the government.
However, the government has permitted restaurants and shops to sell food for takeaway or delivery by e-hailing services.