MASSAGE therapist Nur Hayaty Jaafar and her family of five were at Plaza Angsana in Johor Baru, stocking up on goodies for Ramadan and Hari Raya.
The mother of two bought a tin of rempeyek, crackers made of deep-fried flour with peanuts and anchovies, for RM50 (S$19.50) and four bottles of assorted cookies and snacks, spending less than RM200.
She estimated that she saved 30% by shopping across the Causeway. "We are buying most of our festive goods here because it's cheaper.
"There are also different varieties of food and clothes every year."
The 36-year- old and her family members have been shopping in Johor Baru about twice a month for close to a decade.
Many shoppers like her from Singapore, who head across the Causeway, are enjoying even more savings with the Singapore dollar hitting a 15-year-high against the Malaysian ringgit.
Regulars interviewed at KSL City Mall, Plaza Angsana and Aeon Bukit Indah Shopping Centre told The Sunday Times they can shave anything from a few cents to a few dollars off the prices of tidbits, soft drinks and even movie tickets.
They can now expect to save even more, with the exchange rate hitting RM2.55 to S$1 last Friday, the strongest the Singdollar has been against the ringgit since early 1998, just after the Asian financial crisis.
Most of these regulars who visit Johor Baru for their grocery shopping also found good deals at pharmacies and restaurants, while others were stocking up on Hari Raya cakes and cookies.
Warehouse storekeeper Micheal Samy, 52, who drives there with his wife once a week, said: "We usually spend RM200 but that includes everything like petrol and groceries.
"We also take our three children to watch movies.
"Each ticket only costs about RM10, compared to an average of S$10 for a ticket in Singapore on the weekends.
"We live in Clementi, but it's still very worth it to drive in."
For property agent Irene Yeo, an outing with her friends means a day trip to Johor Baru.
Yeo, 42, and her friends, housewife Cassandra Lim, 37, and nurse Serene Ang, 36, go there at least once a month to shop.
The trio take a bus from Woodlands across the Causeway.
When they visited Tesco supermarket at KSL City Mall last Thursday, they spent RM279.86 on groceries.
Yeo said: "I think we can save about S$20 (RM51) ... Milk powder is much cheaper here."
"When there are promotions in the supermarkets in Singapore, things are also quite cheap.
"But coming to JB is like a gathering for us, we can eat and see what they have here. Shopping malls in Singapore are all about the same," she added.
Shopkeepers said they are expecting more customers from Singapore this weekend and the next.
She added: "I think Singaporeans like it here because there is the bargaining culture, and we give discounts.
"And they have done their research, they know where to get things at a cheaper price." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
A 34-year-old shoplifter was allowed to keep the designer clothes she had stolen after she had made restitution to the shop owners.
Lawyers said this was an unusual move, and it means Teo Bee Hwee gets to keep a pair of black Miu Miu pants and two Prada dresses worth more than S$5,000 (RM12,789) that she had lifted on separate occasions last year.
According to lawyers, stolen items are usually returned to the owners or disposed of by the police.
Last Wednesday, Teo, who faced three counts of theft, was sentenced to a four-month Day Reporting Order, without tagging, which means she is required to report regularly to a centre run by the Singapore Prison Service for supervision and counselling. She also has to serve 200 hours of community service within a year.
Criminal lawyer Rajan Subramaniam said it was rare for the offender to be allowed to keep the stolen goods as it could risk sending the wrong message to the public.
But lawyer Gloria James said: "The court has already punished her for the offence and she has made restitution for the goods. Also, the goods had been away from the stores for some time and the owners probably would not want them back." — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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