Gift Basket Sales Drop This Year
Many retailers in Vientiane have seen a decline in sales of gift baskets during the year-end shopping season.
Gift baskets are top selling items among company staff and government officials who buy them to give to their customers and people held in esteem in the run up to New Year.
But vendors are struggling to make a profit this year.
We have been able to sell about 100 gift baskets during the end-of-year period, only half the number we sold last year, said shop owner Ms Ang.
This decline is part of a trend that has been observed over the past few years. The dip in popularity of the baskets has been attributed to the economic slowdown, the government’s policy of thrift, and the growth in the number of retail shops which is encouraging more people to spend their money on other kinds of gift, Ms Ang said.
I am one of the biggest retailers in the Dongpalan area but I have sold only about 100 gift baskets. Most of the buyers are businessmen and company staff and only a small number of customers are government officials, she added.
Her gift baskets range in price from 100,000 kip to 1 million kip depending on what kind of items the customer wants.
Another retailer in Xiengngeun village said she too was unable to sell a large number of gift baskets like she did last year.
Last year, she sold more than 100 of the brightly packaged baskets but this year had sold only 30-40.
I have no idea about the fake or expired products in gift baskets that many people have commented on, but at my shop we always check the goods before packing them into baskets ready for sale, the vendor said.
The Food and Drug Department under the Ministry of Health recently warned the public to be careful when buying a gift basket because some of the items it contains may be imitation or past the sell-by date. This may not be obvious because they will be mixed in with other items.
Out-of-date or imitation items could pose a serious health risk, a department official said.
Before New Year each year, health officials visit markets in Vientiane and the provinces to look for expired goods among mixed goods and gift baskets in the interests of consumer safety.
Health officials carry out inspections in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
This year, they discovered imported products and foods that were imitation, such as frozen seafood, tobacco, and herbicides.
They also found that some of the products were past their use-by date and some had been mixed in with other products.
Source: Vientiane Times