’Tis the season for a shopping spree | Sunday Observer

’Tis the season for a shopping spree

Senarath family
Senarath family

It is Christmas, the season of giving, sharing, joy and of feasting. In the contemporary world, for the masses out there, it is also the season of shopping. When December dawns, the tell tale signs of the approaching holiday season can be seen in the city of Colombo. Vendors selling bright coloured Christmas decorations appear randomly in the odd corner of the roads. Shopping complexes and supermarkets have set up whole areas dedicated for Christmas paraphernalia. The streets and the buildings are also draped in strings of bulbs and takes on the general festive atmosphere.

This December, the decorations around Colombo are at their peak. From the giant, skeletal Christmas bauble that has been lit up at the Colpetty Junction to more discreet stars, and Christmas trees that has sprung up in the odd corner, the decorations have taken a more creative and original twist. Shop displays are colourful and attractive to passersby, with strings of bulbs, woolly bearded Santas and other trinkets hanging from windows.

A mob of people, carrying shopping bags, fighting their way through the crowded Colombo pavements is also a common signal of the approach of Christmas. This year, the Sunday Observer took to the streets of Colombo, to talk to shoppers, to find out where they shop and how they found their Christmas experience.

In the morning hours of the week leading up to Christmas, the shopping malls of the city displayed no special crowds. Majestic City (MC), Bambalapitiya, was mainly patronised by those buying Christmas hampers and Secret Santa gifts.

“We buy Christmas hampers including vouchers, wine and food items, as well as greeting cards from MC every year. This year, we find the prices relatively high,” said Randika Prasadi and Tharushi Gamage, who were engrossed in selecting greeting cards in a booth in the MC lobby.

Swarm of people

Chrishan Perera and Nadeeshani Herath were rushing across the floors of MC. When the Sunday Observer spoke to them, they said they were looking for Secret Santa gifts.

Speaking of this year’s Christmas shopping, Chrishan said, decorations had been already purchased and he did his other shopping at reasonable prices at the Colombo Shopping Festival at the BMICH.

“These days, there are discounts for credit cards, which are useful. Overall, I find this year’s shopping experience better than previous years,” he said.

Priyanga Kodituwakku from Gampaha was shopping with her two children. When asked about her Christmas shopping this year, she said they did not buy any decorations, but just bought school bags and will be buying clothes next.

“We shop every year at MC and other shops in Colombo.

This year there is not much of a difference. The crowd is less at this time of the day and there is less traffic as well,” she said.

The swarm of people walking in and out of Crescat Boulevard, Colombo 3, mainly utilized the food court in the premises to satiate their hunger, as well as spend time and socialize. There were less people shopping, while more were enjoying the Christmas decorations, the music and the friendly Santa Claus.

“We went shopping for clothes elsewhere and came to Crescat for lunch. It is nice to see the new decorations this year. Colombo seems to be more decorated this time,” said Wayangi Perera and Chamathka Perera from Negombo. They said the streets in Colombo are more crowded with Christmas shoppers this year. “However, prices are high and at some places, clothes are not worth the quoted price,” they said.

Christmas shoppers were mainly thronging the Colombo Shopping Festival 2017, at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Memorial Exhibition Centre. There were clothes, leather goods, electronic items, jewellery, handbags, linen, ornaments, porcelain goods, traditional rice and many more, all under one roof.

“This is where we shop annually. There are good quality clothes, handbags, slippers and jewellery at reasonable prices.

Though prices fluctuate, the goods are still quite affordable and we can buy everything under one roof,” said Gihan Kodithuwakku and Kumudi Madhushani from Panadura.

Good business

For Prathibha Weliwita from Kandana , this Christmas is special and exciting. “This year Christmas is exciting but a little tough because my sister’s wedding is coming up. We managed to find everything to suit our budget,” she said. Prathibha said, prices are reasonable at this year’s shopping festival and some goods were priced lower than last time. “We come here every Christmas. You can complete the whole shopping list here, it is like a shopping mall,” she said.

Dilisha Devasurendra from Colombo said shopping was good and most items were reasonably priced. “ We can find everything under one roof, including baby needs, electric items and clothes. It is a good experience, although charging Rs. 100 per ticket is too much,” she said.

Madhavi Thotawatta from Colombo said she shops for clothes, accessories and cosmetics at the Shopping Festival. “Prices are very reasonable and consistent. Also, there are lots of choices. I found some very good pairs of shoes,” she said.

Among the mob of shoppers there was one who stood out. She had snow white hair and was sitting on a wheeled chair, pushed around by an attendant. When asked about her Christmas, she said she is taking her Christmas quietly, but it is a happy time for her as a Christian.

“I am happy shopping, this festival is fascinating it has such a variety of items to buy. It is crowded and people seem happy shopping too,” said the lady, who wished to remain anonymous.

The owners of the stalls also shared happy tales of good business within the shopping festival. The owner of the Hiro Garments stall, Jenita Udayakumar said, she has been putting up a stall at the exhibition for seven to eight years.

The stall sold baby clothes and crowds walked in and out, carrying large bags. “Business has been good, it is the same as other years. There were more crowds during the last weekend,” she said.

Kelum Wickramasinghe from City Walk shoe stall also echoed Jenita and said business is good and that there was a good crowd during the weekend. “There is a big demand for ladies’ shoes and we sell approximately 100 to 200 pairs per day,” he said.

Kelum added that this year, on average, the shoe prices were higher than last year. However, it does not affect the sales if the shoes are of good quality, he said. The owner of the Greens Flower stall had the same story. Chitra Maliyadeva, said, she has been having a stall in the exhibition since they opened and that she had more business this year. “I sell at wholesale price and have had consistent business throughout the period of the exhibition,” she said.

New types of decorations

At the Arpico, Hyde Park Corner, there was a dedicated area selling Christmas decorations. The Senarath family from Kottawa was busy selecting decorations.

“There are new types of decorations this year, but we are buying decorations to match the furniture and walls,” they said.

Pettah also had hordes of Christmas shoppers. During the evenings, the streets were overflowing ,while during midday, the crowds were less. Sanjeewa Weerakoon from Uswetakeiyawa was selecting plastic Christmas trees with his family. “Christmas trees and decorations are more expensive this year.

Christmas is good if we have more money,” he said.

Fr. Thusith from Dalathura Ja Ela said on other years they made church decorations but this year they wanted to buy the decorations for a change.

Maheswari from Wattala said shopping went well this year, although prices at Pettah was a bit high.

M Anas, selling plastic Christmas trees in a corner near Titus Stores, said, he had less business this year. “People have no money to buy, I have not met my target yet,” he said. Anas added that there is a new type of plastic tree this year, with the tips sprayed with gold and silver.

All in all, depending on the income level and individual preferences, each shopper’s experience differed. For some the prices were too high, while for others the happiness of shopping far outweighed any hike in the prices.

Pix : Shan Rupassara