ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Christmas comes to Cambodia
The trappings associated with the Christian-based holiday season are already well-established in neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand but, according to some shop owners, have yet to develop in a big way in Cambodia.
But businesses say that is starting to change, with a growing number of shops putting on Christmas sales and flicking on the fairy lights to draw in customers.
Chear Sok Heak, general manager of Sorya shopping mall in Phnom Penh, said Christmas celebrations were becoming "more and more popular" every year.
"It is an opportunity for businesses during the Christmas holidays - so many customers visit Phnom Penh," she said.
"Some businesses in the mall have strategies to attract customers, such as discounts and selling many goods that meet the customers' needs."
This year most of the mall's 500 stores, both large and small, had decided to put up decorations to draw in customers, she said.
"We do not force them to. But I think most of the stores in Sorya shopping mall have decorated to promote their businesses," she said.
Swensen's ice-cream parlour is among the shops at Sorya that have embraced the Christmas spirit. The store has put up multicoloured lights and a large cardboard cut-out Christmas tree, and its staff have donned Santa hats and reindeer antlers.
Training manager Seng Bopha said the festive touches encouraged increased custom.
"Every year during the Christmas holidays our business is very good, because so many customers look around the shopping centre and eat our ice-cream. I hope business is good this year too," she said.
It cost around US$100 to decorate the store, but Seng Bopha said the investment had been worth it.
"We want to attract customers, so the benefit is greater," she said.
Businesses outside the large shopping malls are also hoping to capitalise on the festive season, and some are attempting to lure Western shoppers away from Christmas shopping trips to neighbouring commercial hubs.
A newly formed association of shops on upmarket Street 240, in Phnom Penh, is putting on a three-day Christmas fair in the hope that more people will do their seasonal shopping in Phnom Penh.
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