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When is the best time to buy mooncakes in Singapore?

While early-bird or pre-order mooncake prices in Singapore can offer significant discount, buying after the Mid-Autumn Festival may net you the best deals.

An woman making Traditional Mid-Autumn snow skin mooncakes.
Buying mooncakes before, during or after the Mid-Autumn Festival can mean a difference in pricing and experience. (PHOTO: Getty) (Edwin Tan via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Mooncakes are synonymous with the Mid-Autumn festival – which falls on 29 September this year. Demand for mooncakes tends to surge as the festival approaches, but the traditional pastry is popular enough that some sellers sell them year-round.

When is the best time to buy mooncakes and get the best deals?

Pre-order to secure mooncakes ahead of time

The months leading up to the Mid-Autumn festival can be an especially busy sales period for sellers. Many retailers in Singapore offer pre-order opportunities for mooncakes, typically two or three months prior to the day the festival is celebrated. Here's why pre-ordering can be a smart choice:

1. Early bird promotions

Retailers frequently offer early bird discounts to entice customers to make their purchases well in advance. These discounts can significantly reduce the overall cost of the mooncakes. For example, Raffles Hotel's signature mooncakes went on sale as early as June, and the hotel offered early bird discounts of as much as 30 per cent off. The early bird period for Raffles Hotel mooncakes ended on 31 August, about one month before the Mid-Autumn Festival.

2. First pick of flavours

Pre-ordering also allows consumers to have first dibs on the available mooncake flavours and styles. While there are plenty of flavours to choose from these days, popular ones, such as Mao Shan Wang or truffle mooncakes, often sell out quickly. For consumers with specific preferences or who are looking for unique mooncake flavours, this would be the ideal time to explore options.

3. Avoid the rush

As the festival draws nearer, many consumers may be scrambling to get their mooncakes. Getting mooncakes at the last minute could potentially end in disappointment. By pre-ordering, consumers can skip the last-minute shopping rush and feel secure in having the mooncakes ready before the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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Here's a comparison between the early bird and peak season pricing offered by popular hotels:

Hotel

Mooncake

Early bird price

Peak season price

Raffles Hotel Singapore

Champagne Truffle Snow-Skin Mooncake (8 pieces)

S$79.20

S$99.00

Double Yolk With Macadamia Nuts And White Lotus Paste Baked Mooncake (8 pieces)

S$79.20

S$99.00

Sakura & Raspberry Truffle Snow-Skin Mooncake (8 pieces)

S$77.60

S$97.00

Shangri-La Singapore

Shang Palace Spirulina Mung Bean with Bird's Nest Charcoal Mooncake (4 pieces)

S$96.60

S$138.00

Premium Black Thorn Durian Snowskin Mooncakes (8 pieces)

S$79.20

S$99.00

Reduced Sugar Plain White Lotus Seed Paste (4 pieces)

S$55.30

S$79.00

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore

White Lotus Seed Paste with Double Yolk (4 pieces)

S$76.50

S$102.00

Mini Snowskin White Lotus Seed Paste with Yolk (8 pieces)

S$66.00

S$88.00

Snowskin “Mao Shan Wang” Durian (4 pieces)

S$82.50

S$110.00

Goodwood Park Hotel

White Lotus Seed Paste with Single Yolk (4 pieces)

S$67.50

S$90.00

Snowskin Black Thorn Durian (4 pieces)

S$103.50

S$138.00

Snowskin Ondeh Ondeh (4 pieces)

S$63.00

S$84.00

Peony Jade (Amara)

Flaky 'Orh Ni' Mooncake with Premium Golden Pumpkin & Single Yolk (4 pieces)

S$73.10

S$86.00

Baked Mooncake with Premium 'Jin Hua' Ham with Assorted Nuts and Tangerine Peels (4 pieces)

S$71.25

S$95.00

Cognac Truffle Espresso & Chocolate Crunchy Pearl Mini Snowskin Mooncake (8 pieces)

S$72.00

S$90.00

Navigating peak mooncake season

The weeks before the Mid-Autumn Festival are when mooncake sales often reach their peak in Singapore. Here are some advantages and challenges to consider when navigating mooncake purchases during this mid-season rush.

1. Abundant choices

Consumers will find a plethora of mooncake flavours and designs during this time. From traditional lotus seed paste to innovative creations like durian and coffee-flavoured mooncakes, your options are nearly limitless. That being said, consumers run the risk of being stuck in a long order queue for a particular flavour or may find that the mooncake flavours that they want are sold out.

2. Potential price fluctuations

With high demand during the peak season, some mooncake prices might see fluctuations. Expect higher prices if retailers cannot keep up with the high demand. Retailers may offer special promotions or discounts to attract customers, although consumers shouldn't expect the steep early bird discounts offered during the pre-order phase.

3. Increased crowds

Be prepared for larger crowds at stores and shopping malls during this period. Consumers may need to wait in long queues and brave the crowds who are also rushing to get their mooncakes.

Eve and post-Mid-Autumn Festival deals

Once the Mid-Autumn Festival is over or nearing the end, some retailers may offer discounts on remaining mooncake stocks. While this may not be the traditional time to buy, it can be an excellent opportunity to score some good deals.

1. Clearance discounts

Retailers often want to clear out remaining stock, leading to significant discounts on mooncakes. This can be particularly appealing for mooncake lovers who want to enjoy the pastry beyond the festival. However, buyers are usually left with comparatively fewer flavour choices.

2. Future consumption

Buying discounted mooncakes after the festival allows consumers to stock up for future occasions or enjoy mooncakes throughout the year. However, it should be noted that not all mooncakes can be kept for long periods. While some mooncakes can be kept frozen for up to a year, their freshness is likely to be diminished. It's important to find out how long purchased mooncakes can be kept.

3. Smaller crowds

As the rush to buy mooncakes eases after the festival, the shopping experience will likely be more relaxed given the smaller crowds.

When is the best time to buy mooncakes?

The best time to buy mooncakes is entirely dependent on the individuals who are getting the pastry – some may be buying mooncakes as gifts and may want the freshest mooncakes with a good discount, while others buy for their own consumption and wouldn't mind getting them towards the end of the season when offers could be better.

One such person is 42-year-old homemaker Evi Tan, a regular buyer who enjoys consuming the traditional pastry.

"I usually buy towards the end of the season because there are usually offers. I buy for my own consumption and not for gifting, so buying on the eve (of the festival) is not too late. If I am not wrong, the eve has more discount than the early bird period," said Tan.

Others, like 60-year-old retired chemistry tutor Lim Yan Lan, buys mooncakes every year from the traditional bakery Gin Thye as a gift for her mother – it is the latter's preferred brand.

"I buy for her early, on pre-order... Every year, same brand," said Lim.

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