Mon, 10 Feb 2003

`People still need traditional markets'

Traditional markets are being marginalized as the number of supermarkets and hypermarkets in the city expand; but they still lure shoppers from the low- to middle-income brackets, who are attracted by the cheaper prices and the variety of fresh goods available, such as vegetables and fish. The Jakarta Post asked some urban residents about this issue:

Widyanarti, 31, is an employee at a private company in Central Jakarta. She resides in Kayu Jati, East Jakarta with her husband and daughter:

Personally, I prefer the traditional market because I can afford to buy all my daily needs there. Better still, I can bargain for much cheaper prices.

But I haven't needed to bargain much, because I'm a regular customer of a few traders there. I feel that personal relationships are important in the traditional market.

I think that we go to traditional markets when we really need to go shopping, but we go to supermarkets or hypermarkets for other purposes. Many people go to shopping malls for fun and recreation, and shopping is not their top priority sometimes.

Besides, going to the traditional markets is much simpler and more practical. I mean that I don't need to think of my appearance. I feel free and comfortable at traditional markets.

If I want to buy vegetables, I prefer to go to the traditional markets. Their supplies are fresh and cheap. I once had a bad experience at a supermarket -- I bought fresh vegetables but when I got home, they turned out to be rotten. Ever since, I prefer buying vegetables at traditional markets.

If what I need is not available, such as nursing goods for my baby, then I'll go to the supermarket.

Sultan, 21, is a vendor who has been selling children's clothes at a traditional market in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, for four years. He lives in Kampung Pulo, East Jakarta:

I don't think supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping malls are really competitors of a vendor at a traditional market.

I know that supermarkets and hypermarkets sell the same goods as vendors at a traditional market. But of course, they sell far more expensive goods and at a fixed price.

They already have their own customer group, who are usually from the middle- to high class.

I feel comfortable in being a vendor, even though there are many shopping centers all around.

The real competitors in my life are fellow vendors, who fight to lure people to come and buy our goods. It's no wonder, because there are more vendors than customers in the market. They like to shop here rather than at supermarkets, because our prices are negotiable.

I still have my own regulars who come here and buy something from me, and I make more or less Rp 300,000 a day. So why should I think that the shopping centers are my competitors?

Eddy, 46, is a civil servant at the National Library in Central Jakarta. He lives in Cileungsi, West Java, with his wife and three children:

I think that the traditional market is very important to provide relatively cheaper goods for low-income people.

My wife regularly goes to traditional markets to shop for our daily needs. She said she could buy them at prices much cheaper than those in supermarkets. Besides, the vegetables are fresh and healthier for us.

I'd guess the existence of supermarkets, hypermarkets and huge shopping centers here will not necessarily threaten the traditional markets, since each have their own market groups.

In addition, shopping centers are not for shopping only. Many people go there for fun or for recreational reasons, while they go to traditional markets for their daily needs.

I think we should leave it to people to choose between the traditional and modern markets. They can use them according to their respective needs. And I think many people still need the traditional markets for their shopping.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.