If you've visited the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar over its opening weekend (or read our coverage of it), you might have noticed that food prices have gotten more expensive this year.
This is likely because, after a two-year hiatus, rent is higher than ever.
Visitors are seeing a much more compact version of the bazaar with 40 stalls, instead of the 500 to 800 stalls in previous years.
While one would hope that it translates into a higher volume of business for each stall, it also appears to have resulted in a higher rent for vendors.
A F&B vendor that Mothership spoke to revealed that rent for food stalls this year ranges from S$18,000 to S$25,000.
The sum is for the entire period of the bazaar, which will run from Apr. 2 to May 2, 2022.
In 2017, rent hit S$17,000 for food stalls.
In 2018, the record was S$20,000.
A rental cap of S$14,000 was imposed in 2019, after organisers took in feedback from the ground.
But despite the inflation this year, the 35-year-old co-founder of Rancho Meats remains optimistic about business.
Qamarul's stall is located in the busier Zone 2, which has a dedicated "food paradise".
"Yes, [I'm] very optimistic because after two years people miss the experience they used to have every Raya season, which is the bazaar feeling," he said.
It is also his first time operating a stall at the bazaar, and he intends to use this opportunity to showcase his company's frozen marinated meats by cooking them on the spot for sale.
Lower rent for retail stalls
As is the norm, rent runs lower for retail stalls.
Gadiel Ash, 28, is the owner of fashion brand Rayaan Couture. Save for the recent couple of years, he has been a regular vendor at the bazaar for almost a decade.
According to him, rent is about S$10,000 a booth in Zone 2, and he has decided to take up two booths this year.
He used to pay S$4,000 for a single booth, Ash added.
On the two-year hiatus, the business owner said, "It was troubling at first, because we were unsure like, 'Oh, when [will the] bazaar ever open again, is it actually going to happen?'"
He coped with the downtime by opening a brick-and-mortar shop during the pandemic.
When Mothership spoke to him on the first day of the bazaar, things are already "starting to look good," and he expects that it will only get better in the coming days.
Zarina, 55, is similarly "happy" to be back at the bazaar.
Her stall displays an array of Hari Raya goodies, with packets and containers of snacks lining the shelves.
Although Zarina technically sells food, the snacks do not require any preparation on the spot, and are classified under retail.
As sales at previous bazaars have been "mostly good", she hopes that the bazaar's return will also mean better business than the last festive season.
Top image by Mandy How