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Cross border just for groceries? Not worth it!

Is it worth it?

Is it worth the trip to Miri, Limbang or even Kota Kinabalu from Brunei Darussalam just for groceries? No!

But is it worth the trip for a relaxing weekend of shopping combined with leisure? If it’s a combination of these things, then the answer is a resounding Yes!

Well, this is according to the findings of a survey (see photo below) that was featured in our article – Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri? – that had received over 6,000 page views, as of June 20, 2018.

Price check

Facebook user ‘Zair Zairin’ noted that the products that were featured in the article – “Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri?” – did not reflect what an average Bruneian family would purchase in Miri.

Our readers also asked us to compare prices for items aside from “junk food”.

The most requested items were baby diapers, butter, cooking oil and fizzy drinks, specifically Coca-Cola (Coke).

Two shops in Brunei where we surveyed prices were Sim Kim Huat (SKH) and Hua Ho.

While in Miri, we visited Emart and Boulevard, which are popular among Brunei shoppers.

Prices of selected items in the table (below) were noted down by the ‘Neue’ team around mid-June.

People who say it’s WORTH it

Responding to our question if grocery shopping was worth the trip from Brunei to Miri, Facebook user ‘Saifull Rizal’ said at the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re buying and that it’s important to buy in bulk for items such as diapers and baby formula milk.

Facebook user ‘Kharen June Operiano Charles’ said shops in Brunei were “super overpriced”.

“Same price but different currency … how is that possible?” she asked.

Another user ‘Ny Izd’ pointed out that every dollar saved in Miri goes a long way. “If you can save at least 1 Brunei dollar for each item that you guy in Malaysia … Imagine how much you would save if you buy more groceries?”

Facebook user ‘Fira Rish’ said she prefers going to Miri for facial treatments because shops there use the same skin care products as what you would get from a spa in Brunei. In short, same product but you pay less in Miri.

People who say it’s NOT worth it

According to Facebook user ‘Fandy Osman’, even though things are cheaper across the border (outside Brunei), one has to consider things like “indirect costs” and “opportunity costs” such as fuel, risk of travel mishaps, toll fees, time spent travelling and accommodation.

As far as he is concerned, these hidden costs make the trip to Miri not cost-saving at all.

Another Facebook user ‘Paul Dominique Galvez’ said a value should be put on EFFORT spent by people travelling across the border just for groceries.

According to him, if you were to factor in travel time and effort, the price difference of items that you can find in Brunei and Miri would be negligible.

Shop in Brunei! Let’s support local businesses!

Facebook user ‘Jasmine Xia’, on the other hand, hoped to see more Brunei shoppers help our own country to improve LOCAL businesses.

“People love to shop in Miri due to the favourable exchange rates. Bruneians spend a lot in neighbouring states and this does NOT help our own economy,” she said.

“Considering the subsidies that the Brunei Government provides for the people, we should take steps to help our OWN country to improve LOCAL businesses,” she added.

According to her, if you were to factor in fuel expenses and other what-nots, you’re not saving.

When asked if changing people’s mentality was frustratingly difficult, she said: “Yes definitely! But at the end of the day, people have the right to choose what they want to do with their hard-earned money.

“Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) need the support of Brunei shoppers be it for groceries, restaurants, electronics, clothing, hardware, house renovations, etc.

“Without the purchasing power of locals in Brunei … without their support, businesses locally won’t thrive.

“Imagine, even for groceries, people don’t want to shop locally! But they are enjoying the subsidies in Brunei.

“These are just my two cents. We don’t have to border hop for everything. Let’s help the government create a better economy! Locals have that power if they can just stop turning to Miri for everything.”

Before and after GST

We wrote the story – Grocery shopping: Is it worth the trip to Miri? – earlier in the year when shoppers in Malaysia were charged GST (Good & Services Tax).

Soon after the Neue website was launched, Malaysia’s newly elected prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in a surprise announcement scrapped the 6% GST in the country.

We asked Facebook user ‘Mii Nineteens’ about his thoughts on whether more Bruneian shoppers would be rushing across the border following news that GST in Malaysia would be scrapped.

“I doubt anything big would change. It would still be the same regardless (with or without the GST). People will still go to Miri since it’s like killing 2 birds with 1 stone – you get to enjoy a vacation (sightseeing) once a month, while at the same time, shop for stuff and enjoy cheap food,” he said.

What do you have to say about this?

Drop us a message in the comments section below or via Facebook and Instagram.

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11 Comments

  1. for me it’s better for us to shop at Brunei, first of all, it help our economy, help the local business here to improve. second, fuel, as stated it costs around $20-$25, how about the maintenance of the car, such as tyres? Third, how about safety? but on the other hand, we can buy in bulk such as the diapers and the clothes, also hey cheap food

    1. That’s a good point Faisal Rosli! It’s very encouraging to see a number of ‘Neue’ readers highlighting the need for more people to support local businesses. You also raised a good point about maintenance of vehicles such as tyres! Balding tyres are a no-no!

  2. What the point to shop here at brunei, even if i shop here, the shop in brunei still import those thing from outside countries.. Isnt it indirectly spending outside brunei… Plus paying extra for the shop here.

  3. Let not just compare to going miri, limbang or kk, today market is not like 20 years ago where we rely on the shop to sell the thing @ import from outside,today world evolve with internet, that why nowadays we go online shopping, for what?? Same concept why we go miri, kk, if we can get cheaper from the dealer even better, save us a lot

    1. That’s a very interesting observation … the part where you said today’s world evolves with the Internet. Would you say that the lines between online and traditional shopping are blurring more and more?

  4. I really think getting groceries locally in Brunei is the way to go! Quite a noticeable amount of businesses in Brunei are sadly, closing down due to lack of support from the people in Brunei. And also, from my experience(s), the quality of groceries especially fresh groceries(eg.fresh meats, fresh seafood) in Brunei is of better quality compared to the mentioned Malaysian/Miri supermarkets(Emart, Boulevard). In my opinion, the customs in the Brunei borders should charge tax on groceries or goods bought from foreign countries specifically Malaysia to urge the people of Brunei to support local business, to help the economy of Brunei! Imagine, the people of Brunei spent over BND$1.3 billion in Malaysia in 2016 alone, I massive amount considering Brunei has a population of just over 420,000 people.

    1. Do you think the general population of Brunei are aware of what products they get from across the border are exempted and not exempted from Custom Taxes?

  5. If you shop in Brunei, your money goes to the storekeeper and his/her employees salary. Then their money gets spent in Brunei on things like gas, movie tickets, school fees, etc. Maybe they might make enough profits and decide to reinvesting it in another local business, or manufacture their own product to sell in their stores. Maybe they might spend outside of Brunei too. But the whole point of spending local is to keep money circulating here, and grow the economy.

  6. Hi, Why dont your compare groceries in Giant Miri and groceries in Giant Brunei? Have you done that. I have been shopping in Giant for the past many years and I got time to compare their prices..I definitely got one trolley in Giant Brunei and three trolleys of groceris from Giant Miri, you name it shampoos, showers, plus all canned food etc etc..from my experinces same items can cost at $RM 7.70 in Giant Miri and $BND7.70 in Giant Brunei..please try yourself and you will believe it worth it. Onve you done your groceries shopping go for a reflexology at $RM38 for one hour compare to Brunei at $BND 30 for one hour.

  7. the comparisons are bit rudimentary but still interesting.

    I don’t think people spend because they’re always thinking about supporting the local economy. That’s too indulgent. I’ve heard too many times that we ‘should’ support the local economy and buy from them on the virtue of being local.

    Its the same thing as hiring someone. We should hire them for their competence. Not just because they’re local. Similarly, we should buy a product because we either like the brand and what they stand for OR because they have an awesome product OR both.

    Not because they’re local.

  8. I think if you buy cheaper diaper you might end up using them more. My kids wear reusable diapers at home.. And toilet trained as soon as they can.. I don’t see diaper is a huge expenses. Disposable diapers also bad for the environment. I never agree with the diapers subsidy.. It will end up higher landfill cost.

    I never make a trip to Miri for groceries.. People don’t see the impact it caused to our country

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