As Ludhiana resigns to a subdued Holi, shopkeepers report 80% dip in sales
With fresh restrictions imposed on public celebrations of Holi in Punjab, shopkeepers across the city who had stocked their shops with a multitude of colours — organic and otherwise —and an assortment of paraphernalia such as water guns and balloons ahead of the festival of colours reported an 80% dip in sales.
The shopkeepers said that with one day to go for the festival, sales had still not picked up. Forlorn stalls stocked with a wide array of colours can be seen at markets in Daresi, Ghumar Mandi, Jawahar Nagar. Shopkeepers say the footfall is significantly lower than previous years as cartoon-embossed water guns, priced between ₹50 to ₹400 to cater to children of all social strata, patiently wait for the traditional horde of children to gather around and clamour for these novel goodies.
Nominal increase in price
There has been a nominal increase in the price of products —colour packs of 50g and 1kg will cost ₹30, they were previously priced ₹25 and ₹60, respectively. The 10-kg pack will cost ₹700.
A shopkeeper, who requested anonymity, said after the commissioner of police banned all gatherings at hotels, restaurants and malls due to a surge in virus cases, few customers turned up to purchase products.
Sunil Kumar, who owns a toy shop in Daresi, said, “I have been in this business for 20 years and every year a people throng to purchase colours and water guns before the festival. However, the pandemic and sudden spike in cases has severely affected our business. Only two customers have shown up since morning, if this continues, I will not be able to clear my stock. I had purchased a variety of water guns made in India, and herbal colours but there are no customers.”
Another shopkeeper, Gurjinder Singh of Jawahar Nagar, said, “We had stocked up on water guns, vibrant colours, and coloured smoke but over the last week, we are only able to sell merchandise worth ₹5,000, though we bought products worth ₹40,000. I had hired two additional employees to handle the rush before Holi but with few customers coming up, I will find it difficult to even pay their salaries.”
Holi parties no longer all the rage
Ishneet Sharma, a resident of Punjab Mata Nagar, said, “I attend Holi parties every year but this year due to an increase in virus cases, I will stay at home and celebrate the festival with my family. My friends plan to have a get together but I have decided to stay home and stay safe.”
Despite surging cases, many residents were seen ignoring safety protocols, including social distancing and wearing masks, in markets.