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Diwali shoppers scrimp and save

It was a strange sight at the Ajmal Khan Market, one of Delhi’s most popular and crowded festival shopping zones. The market looked crowded while shops were largely empty. Ruchi Hajela and Saurabh Turakhia report.

business Updated: Oct 25, 2008 01:32 IST

It was a strange sight at the Ajmal Khan Market, one of Delhi’s most popular and crowded festival shopping zones. The market looked crowded while shops were largely empty – as if to suggest that Diwali was more about window shopping than the real thing in the backdrop of a downcast economic mood.

Some shoppers were obviously pinched. In Mumbai’s malls the picture looked better, but the impact of Friday’s big crash in the stock market was yet to set in.

"The Sensex crash the week before the Diwali season is an unfortunate event and may affect business if shoppers directly linked to the Sensex cut down on shopping," said Kishore Bhatija, chief executive, Inorbit Malls.

"Things are too highly priced this time and my husband just gave me 50 percent of what he used to give me earlier," added Kanchan Malhotra, a housewife, at Central Market in Lajpat Nagar, a key shopping area in South Delhi.

Shop owners said that the wavering stock market, double-digit inflation and recent terror attacks had dampened consumers’ buying spirits. “Double digit inflation has impacted consumer sentiment and our business has gone by 15 per cent,” said the store manager at popular footwear store Balujas.

Karol Bagh trader Ashok Madan said the electronics market was lax. “Earlier products such as iron, toasters and mixers used to sell in huge numbers but this time sales in this category have gone down by around 60 per cent,” he said.

Philips India’s marketing head Vivek Sharma said falling shares will affect consumer psychology.

“Also, there is a fear of job losses but actual job losses have not been too significant to materially affect the festive shopping,” he said.