Bitter times for Ludhiana sweet shop owners ahead of Raksha Bandhan
PANDEMIC FALLOUT: Some say businesses are coming back on track, others say they have never witnessed such slowdown beforeUpdated: Aug 01, 2020 22:37 IST
Sweetshop owners, who were relieved by the government’s decision to reopen confectionaries on the eve of Raksha Bandhan, have reported poor sales amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
While a few said business was slowly coming back on track, others said they had never witnessed such slowdown in the market during Raksha Bandhan and the festive fervour was conspicuously missing from the markets.
Punjab Halwai Association president Narinder Pal Singh Pappu said, “The decision taken by the state government to open sweet shops on Sunday will help the sector move past the slowdown. Initially, we were expecting low sales. Only 30-35% material is being prepared in comparison to last year, but business has improved ahead of Raksha Bandhan, as residents have started purchasing sweets. We are taking all precautions to avoid spread of infection.”
However, few shopkeepers said they were still witnessing an unprecedented slowdown in the countdown to the festival. The owner of Amanz Sweets, Model Town, Shamsher Singh, said,”We have been in business for around 12 years now, but have never witnessed such a poor response during Raksha Bandhan. Fear has gripped the residents and only around 25% people have bought sweets in comparison to the past .”
Shopkeepers are hoping for better sales on Sunday. Owner of Chawla sweets in the Field Ganj area Mohinder Pal Singh said, “We have only received a 25%-30% response. Festive fervour is missing from the markets. We hope residents step out of their homes on Sunday and an increase in sales is witnessed.”
Social distancing a rare site
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s appeal to distribute free masks with sweets received a lukewarm response. While city-based shops were seen distributing masks, shopkeepers in the interior refrained from doing so. Also, social distancing norms were not followed. While shopkeepers were avoiding crowding inside the shops, residents waiting for their turn outside the shops ignored social distancing.
Pappu said,”The association has asked every shopkeepers to distribute free masks with sweets and take all precautions required to control spread of disease.”