Horse-racing calendars on final lap here?
THE classic wall calendar listing horse-racing days is a rare find in today's households. But local printing firms have not given up on the calendar despite its waning demand.
The few companies that still design and print these calendars say there is still demand, albeit not as much as before.
Charlton Kwan, 47, owner of Chee Seng International, which prints and supplies horse-racing calendars, said he has seen a drop of about 30 per cent compared with 10 years ago.
The calendars show the horse-racing dates here and in Malaysia. They sell for about $2.50 each.
But it is still viable to keep making them, despite the tedious and labour-intensive process.
He said: "There are still people who want to look at the racing dates. It also gives a quick view of the dos and don'ts of the day."
The calendar features monthly pages, each day filled with details such as the Chinese lunar date, Islamic date, Hindu date, public holidays, school holidays and even daily dos and don'ts according to the Chinese almanac.
Mr Kwan added that the horse-racing calendar is popular with the older generation, especially housewives and hawkers.
There is also demand from companies supplying liquefied petroleum gas cylinders and hardware, and small and medium-sized enterprises that give away the calendars as corporate gifts.
Another player in the market, Living Calendars, said demand has dropped by an average of 10 per cent a year.
Owner Jeffrey Lau, 51, said: "The younger generation checks the calendar on mobile phones while the older generation prefers to have a hard copy at home."
He will continue to supply the calendars until it is no longer economically viable to do so.
"We foresee that in five to 10 years' time, the demand may drop so much that we have to import instead," he said. Mr Lau estimated that there are fewer than five companies producing the horse-racing calendars locally because of the potential risks.
"You have to put a lot of effort into producing it. If there is any mistake, the client won't pay you."
He also said that the timeframe for producing the calendars is short. "We have to get everything on standby, once the confirmed dates are released, we quickly put them in and send the calendars for printing."
One fan of the horse-racing calendar is freelance writer Sylvia Toh, 68, who has been relying on it for the past 60 years.
She said: "It is large and pictorial. At a glance, you know when are the weekends and the public holidays.
"And at a little corner somewhere, you have the Chinese animal zodiac, if you need to refer to it."
Ms Toh uses two such calendars - one on the wall and another on her table to keep track of appointments.
While people like her appreciate the beauty of the calendar, getting the younger generation to embrace it is an uphill battle, said Mr Kwan, citing his own experience with his two teenage children.
He said: "It is good to pass down the tradition, but it is not within our control as it depends on people. If the trend is no longer in fashion, how do you stop it from dying?"
Still, he vowed to keep supplying it to keep the tradition and culture alive.
THE NEW PAPER