Delhiites stepped out in fairly large numbers to shop on the occasion of Dhanteras on Sunday. The retailers, however, did not seem too happy. In fact, they dismissed the footfall as deceptive and the shopping as only perfunctory.
Though the sales, registered especially with jewellers, automobile dealers and crockery shops, were probably the highest this festive season, it still fell short of the business Dhanteras usually brings in every year. It is a custom to buy gold, silver, vehicles or utensils on this auspicious day that falls two days before Diwali.
Even a significant fall in gold prices failed to set cash registers ringing as loud as last year for city jewellers. Sunil Chawla, owner of AMS Jewellers in South Extension Part I, said: “My business is down by 50 per cent. The market may look crowded but most of them are interested in roadside shopping. Those walking into our showroom are not keen on spending more money despite the fall in gold prices.”
Kamal Arora has a shop selling utensils in Karol Bagh. He has a similar story to tell. “Most people are here because tradition dictates them to buy some metal on this day. Business is not as great as the crowd is not spending enough,” he said.
Arjun Passey, a customer at a jewellery showroom in Karol Bagh, is definitely among the shoppers who have tightened their purse strings. Passey owns an outdoor publicity firm called Arsh Publicity. He said his budget for Dhanteras and Diwali this year is just one-tenth of what he spent last year.
“My clients have cut back on their advertising costs and so my business has been hit. Hence, the cut on personal shopping,” said Passey.
Automobile dealers too looked crestfallen. Sales had improved significantly for most dealers on Sunday, which they hope would carry on, till the end of the month.
Prem Bagga, president of Automobile Traders Association in Delhi and Managing Director of Bagga Link dealership in the Capital, said, “Today is probably the first time in this festive season that we’ve sensed the festive mood. People have been pouring in since morning and we hope to sell 300 two-wheelers today. But this year is 10 per cent lower than last year.”