Food catering services are getting more popular this Chinese New Year, with at least three of them seeing an increase of about 10 per cent to 15 per cent in customer orders.
This is because more people are turning to catered food as they find it troublesome to cook.
At the same time, they prefer to enjoy their meals in the comfort of their own homes, rather then jostle with the crowds at restaurants, said these caterers.
Paradise Group, which owns 11 brands and offers a catering service called One Paradise, has received 15 per cent more orders compared to last year, said its marketing manager Cynthia Yee.
As for Pin Si Kitchen, a restaurant in Yishun which has a catering business, managing director Edison Oh, said it is seeing a 10 per cent increase in buffet orders.
Neo Group, which oversees three catering brands, namely Neo Garden, Orange Clove and Deli Hub, also said it is receiving more orders for small-scale celebrations. In fact, Ms Christina Thung, its senior marketing executive, said the number of orders this year has already surpassed last year's figure of 1,005 orders.
That figure entered the Singapore Book of Records as the highest number of events catered in a day, which translates to about 27,000 guests. Neo Group will reveal this year's figure later.
One fan of food catering is Madam Kathy Foo, 57, an administrative assistant in the public sector.
She has been catering food for her family gathering every Chinese New Year for the past decade.
Aside from its convenience, she said catering retains the merits of eating at home.
"When people eat at a restaurant, they tend to leave soon after," she said. "But if you cater food at home, you can spend more time talking to one another."
People also want to give their parents and grandparents a break from cooking, said Madam Mok Liang Tee, 60, who sells dried goods at Albert Centre. This means smaller crowds at dried-goods markets, she added.
However, not everyone has stopped cooking for their families.
Albert Centre patron Tham Suet Foong has been doing her new-year shopping at the market for the past three years and does not find it a chore at all.
Shopping for ingredients there "is relatively cheap and we get a large variety of food", said the 58-year-old.