While many businesses and traders have switched to digital transactions, one business is showing no signs of revival as a fair number the small-time traders don’t even have the option to go digital as their target customer base doesn’t have access to internet or smartphones.
The traders, who set stalls on different days of the week across the city, said that they are among the worst sufferers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation move.
Faizal Ahmed, a shopkeeper at the Ashok Nagar market, who has been running a stall of women garments for the last 25 years, said, “We sell cheap products and our customers are mainly from the lower strata of the society. We don’t even have the option of using cards because our customers don’t have credit or debit cards. Many of them don’t have smartphones and those who have don’t know how to make digital transactions.”
Our profit margin is between Rs 50-60. If we start using cards we will have to increase the cost of our products to meet the surcharge rate, which is not feasible. The USP of our business is cheap prices and we cannot increase them beyond a point.”
Many of our customers don’t even have a bank account, he added.
The weekly bazaars are held all over the city, but mostly in neighbourhoods where people from lower middle class live and shop. Traders sell cheap clothes, shoes, utensils, cosmetic products etc here.
Ahmed, who earned anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 700 every day before November 8, said his everyday earning has come down to around Rs 200-250 on an average.
The shopkeepers pay Rs 250 per day to the local agent for the table on which they display their items, Rs 100 for lights, Rs 20 to the corporation for setting stall and Rs 10 for cleaning. They say that on some days they are not able to make enough to pay for these things.
“Our customers have been severely affected by the note ban. Some of my friends who worked as labourers in factories have gone back to their villages as they didn’t get enough work here,” he added.
Mohammad Shahid, who sells winter clothes, said, “I have invested more than Rs 30,000 in winterwear. But the timing of note ban was such that I haven’t been able to sell even 20% of the stock,” he said
The jackets that he purchased for Rs 250 are now selling for Rs 270, he added. “Our customers don’t have enough money to spend on food. Obviously, shopping for anything other than basic items is out of question. Ultimately, we are suffering,” said Shahid.