Wednesday began with confusion and panic triggered by the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, only to see some degree of normalcy by the night. With banks set to open on Thursday to exchange or deposit the notes, the action will shift to their branches. Banks are planning to depute extra staff and stay open on the weekend too.
On Tuesday, even past midnight, residents thronged to ATMs to withdraw Rs 100 notes or to cash-deposit kiosks to out in the Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes; to petrol stations to use up the cash, or even to jewellery shops that stayed open till 2am in some cases. “Between 8pm and 1am on Tuesday night, gold worth around Rs 50 crore was sold in the tricity,” said Sarbjeet Singh, president of the SAS Nagar Jewellers Association.
Queues and minor quarrels at petrol pumps continued till Wednesday evening, by which time people appeared to have reconciled and stopped panicking
From purchasing milk, groceries and vegetables to taking a a cab — this required cash, as smaller establishments do not always have card-swipe machines. Some shopkeepers preferred to sell on credit.
Traders claimed a 50% dip in business. Markets of Sector 15, 17, 19, 20, 22 and 26 did saw low footfall. Subhash Gulati, owner of Empire Stores in Sector 17, said, “Only a few customers who used cards came today.” Chandigarh Beopar Mandal chief Charanjeev Singh said, “There was hardly any business as there was confusion.” Some accepted Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, even as these were no longer legal, saying that they would declare these in their tax returns.
The city’s main shopping centre, Elante Mall, also saw a 50% dip in footfall. Every day, above 15,000 people visit the mall, but on Thursday the number was hardly 8,000, according to staff. A salesperson from Zara clothing store said, “We couldn’t meet our target.” Another from Charles and Keith said, “Today, many people wanted to use their Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We could not accept these, so sales took a hit.”
In Zirakpur, printouts at Paras Downtown Square and Metro Wholesale store said the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes won’t be accepted. North Country Mall in Kharar wore a deserted look.