Eid came but not the shoppers. The stock of Eid gifts in markets like Sarojini Nagar and Karol Bagh remained unsold. And now, shopkeepers fear, the goddess Lakshmi will not smile on them this Diwali. “Business is down by half,” says Ashok Randhawa, President of Sarojini Nagar Market Traders’ Association.
Before the festive season, shopkeepers stock up on jewellery and clothing, anticipating good profits. “Now, not only will they have to sell their wares at discounted rates after the festive season, but a lot of their stock could go unsold, as these things go out of fashion really fast,” says Randhawa.
Shopping malls have also recorded a fall in the number of visitors. Ansal Plaza and Select City Walk, which get up to 10,000 visitors on Sundays, have experienced a 40 per cent drop in footfalls after September 13. Likewise, business at food courts and eating joints is suffering.
On their part, shoppers say they would rather be safe than sorry. “Since the blasts, I have stopped visiting crowded markets,” says Priyanka Chakravarty, a JNU student. “Every time I step out of my office to visit a market, I make it a point to call home and inform my parents,” says Sonya Saxena, a banker who works in Connaught Place.
Hit: Cinemas’ business
There has been no big release in the last three weeks, but a near-empty hall on ‘first day, first show’ is unusual by any standard. Yet, this has become the norm in the Capital ever since the serial blasts.
The reason is obvious. As Rakesh Negi, a graphic artist and movie buff, puts it: “I used to go to the movies every week. But now I am scared. My friends are also reluctant. I haven’t seen even one movie since the blasts.”
Normally, occupancy falls drastically a day after a terror strike. But this time, it is taking too long to climb back. Even popular cinema halls have been recording occupancy rates of around 40 per cent. “We have not had an occupancy rate of more than 20 per cent since the blasts,” says Sonam Grover of Satyam Cinemas.
Devotion, fervour on hold
As places of worship and festive celebrations have been targets of terror in the past, even temples, Durga Puja pandals and Ram Lila grounds are not free of the post-blasts panic. Fearing for their safety, people are reluctant to take part in the festivities.
On Friday, Hanuman Mandir and Jhandewalan Mandir had unusually thin attendance, considering the Navratras are on.
“Ever since the blasts, few people have been visiting,” said a member of the Jhandewalan Mandir committee, who did not wish to be named.
Durga Puja is to start on Monday, but organisers are already expecting a low turnout. “After listening to the security concerns of people, I am expecting a less than usual turnout,” said Utpal Ghosh, president of Navapalli Durga Puja Samiti, CR Park.
Several puja samitis have issued circulars to their members, asking them to cooperate with security checks. Some have requested members not to carry bags or bottles . The Delhi Rohini Durga Puja Samiti has asked visitors to carry their belongings in plastic bags to facilitate checking.
“We plan to wind up celebrations by 10 p.m.,” said a member. “We are hiring extra guards for keeping an eye on visitors,” said Alok Majumdar, member of the Agrani Durga Puja Samiti of Rohini.