Amid piling losses, wholesale dealers rue Sunday lockdown in Ludhiana
With markets still closed on Sunday, wholesale dealers in the district say they have yet again got the short end of the stick as 80% of their clientele prefers to make purchases on that day.
With most of their summer purchases still in stock, the wholesale dealers say ease in restrictions have not boosted their business. They have requested the Ludhiana deputy commissioner to allow them to open their shops on Sunday, even as they agreed to keep the shops closed on any other day of the week.
Wholesale dealers at Chaura Bazaar, Akalgarh Market, and Gandhinagar Market say they witness more footfall on Sunday than any other day of the week.
Amid a surge in cases, the administration had, on May 2, closed all shops selling non-essential items and imposed curfew on weekends as well. Sellers of non-essential items got some relief on May 7, as authorities provided them a window from 5am to noon. When the cases began to ebb, the administration increased the timings till 3pm on May 26, and then further increased it to 5pm on May 26 on May 31. As per the latest orders, all the shops are allowed to operate from 5am to 6pm.
Proprietors of wholesale stores say it is not just local people who buy from them but a considerable chunk of the sales comes from people of other districts such as Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Mansa, and Moga.
Akalgarh Market, one of the wholesale garment markets of the city, has around 795 such shops. Akalgarh Market Readymade Garment Association president Manpreet Singh Bunty says, “Last year, our summer wear stock remained shelved because of the nationwide lockdown. This year, too, we are in the same boat. We will not be able to survive unless the market is opened on Sunday.”
A wholesale dealer at Gandhi Nagar market, which has 700 wholesale shops, Sukwinder Singh, says, “I have been in the garment business for 20 years. However, the pandemic has ruined the business. Few customers turn up on weekdays,” he said.
In normal circumstances, special markets were setup by shopkeepers on Sunday, which were visited by around 10,000 customers. However, the once vibrant markets now wear a deserted look on weekends.
Sanjeev Chaudhary, president of Arora Market Chaura Bazaar Association, said, “The Sunday lockdown has definitely affected my ready-made garment business. Hopefully, the government will make more concessions from next week.”
PPBM wants shops to stay open till 8pm, on Sunday
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (PPBM) slammed the state government for not providing any relief package to boost business in the time of pandemic. “Industrialists and traders are leaving the state because of the anti-trade policies of the government,” representatives said during a press conference.
The lockdown and curfew have caused considerable financial loss to both traders and industrialists, they said, adding that if Sunday lockdown was not withdrawn and timing of shops not increased till 8pm within the next three days,they will be forced to start an agitation across Punjab.