Dark days for sellers of Diwali lights, diyas in Chandigarh as demand drops 50%

Low footfall in electrical shops and poor sales keep spirits low in the festive season
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Rajanbir Singh, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON NOV 09, 2020 10:44 PM IST

Even though Diwali is just a few days away, sellers of string lights and diyas are facing dark days because of the Covid-19 pandemic, complaining that demand has dropped by 50% when compared to the previous years. A firecracker ban by the administration is also not helping, they say.

Interestingly, buyers have been asking about the origin of the fancy lights and not picking up products made in China.

Electrical shops selling string lights are empty, except for the Sector 18 Electronics Market, with RP Gupta, chairman of the sector’s Market Dealer Association saying, “This year we have barely managed to sell 50% of our stock compared to sales in previous years. Fancy lights are not selling and even though there are a few days left for Diwali, the footfall in the markets and the response of the shopkeepers have been discouraging.”

Many shopkeepers in other sectors have skipped the annual ritual of stringing up lights outside. Gurpreet Singh, proprietor of an electronics shop in Sector 35, said, “We have not received a single enquiry about Diwali lights, which is why the entire stock hasn’t been unpacked. Due to the pandemic, people’s spending power has been impacted. Many families are making do with what they bought last year.”

The China effect

Although it is not very pronounced, shopkeepers have also reported that people are refusing to buy Chinese products.

Confirming this, RP Gupta says unlike previous years, shopkeepers have been stocking the comparatively more expensive India made lights, which are selling faster than the Chinese ones.

Rajwinder Singh, who also runs a shop in Sector 18, adds that there has been a shift away from the China made lights, but not necessarily for patriotic reasons. “Today brands of repute such as Philips have started making fancy decoration lights for Diwali which are more durable and people are willing to shell a few extra bucks to get them instead of the Chinese products that develop faults quickly.”

Simple designs, fewer buyers

Diyas too have no takers. “A year ago we were making pillars of diyas and other works of art, but now we are stocking diyas with simple designs,” says Vinod Kumar, the president of the potters group which sells its wares in Sector 24.

All hope was not lost, however, as he added that an order had come in for a three-foot diya pillar from Sector 15 that would cost Rs900.

Laxmi of Jagatpura, who has been selling diyas in Sector 46 for the past 15 years, says this year will be tough for her. “These are difficult times. Everyone knows someone close to them who has been affected because of Covid. The festive spirit is lacking in the markets, due to which our diyas are also not selling.”

Laxmi failed to sell a single diya on Monday.

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