Wednesday, 20 Oct 2021

Home bakers seeing surge in sales amid circuit breaker period

Home bakers are reporting brisk sales this year amid the circuit breaker period.

Ms Siti Hartini, 38, the owner of home bakery Shartini’s Food Journal, said sales from her usual menu, apart from Hari Raya bakes, have increased. She has seen sales surge by about 20 per cent after tighter circuit breaker measures were eased earlier this month.

Less critical consumer services, including standalone outlets selling confectionery and dessert, had been suspended from April 22.

Some businesses were allowed to resume operations from May 12 with strict measures in place.

“I came up with a fun bites sort of gift package, which consists of small cakes of different flavours. People bought them to gift to their loved ones because they cannot meet up,” said Ms Siti. “Muslims also bought them because they want something sweet to break their fast with.”

She noted that sales surged once the tightened measures were eased, and they were even higher than before the stricter rules came into force. “People immediately checked if I was accepting orders again. I had given them refunds for cancelled orders (previously),” she said.

“I didn’t expect my business to boom after. I have orders every day,” she added, noting that she has had over 50 orders since the measures were eased, with some of them for multiple items.

Ms Norazlina Shukor, owner of The Cakerie Club, reported at least a 50 per cent increase in demand during the circuit breaker period for her custom-made cakes.

“People cannot go out and some bakeries might be closed, so they want to order online. Many also order cakes for their staff and send care packs to one another,” said the 41-year-old.

She said that during the period of tightened restrictions, customers did not cancel their orders, but instead postponed them. “I had to reject some orders because I could not fulfil them. I’m at maximum capacity.”

Ms Nurrul Ibrahim, 32, who owns Bakes By Nrulhda, said: “I do see the home-baking business growing despite the circumstances we are in. On social media platforms, home bakers are pushing sales because people don’t go out much.”

Experts told The Straits Times that pent-up demand could have boosted the sales for home bakers and those who operate online.

Ms Esther Ho, director of Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Business Management, said: “I think demand (surged) with the lifting of some measures to allow home businesses to operate and deliveries to take place.

“But the ability to take in new orders is limited by the capacity of their home kitchens, which are considerably smaller than commercial ones. Earlier measures that prevented home businesses from operating have resulted in loss of time. It would be challenging for home bakers to meet the pent-up demand.”

Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Business senior lecturer Leung Sau Yee said the Muslim community might also be making an extra effort to celebrate Hari Raya despite the restrictions.

“This will definitely give a boost to home-based online baking businesses, given that consumers’ choices are limited due to the circuit breaker measures,” she said.

Home bakers said this period has taught them new lessons.

Ms Nurrul said: “Home bakers have put in place safety measures during this time (such as contactless delivery). We have learnt to practise these measures.

“Whether or not the crisis ends soon, food handling and hygiene are sensitive issues and consumers want to know they can enjoy the food safely. I think that is a good learning point for us all.”

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