Mumbai: Cracker sales sluggish, sellers blame elections, high prices
The trend of Diwali becoming a less noisy affair with each passing year seems to be continuing this year as well, with the demand for ornamental firecrackers surpassing that for noisy firecrackers, according to wholesalers and industry experts.
The assembly elections conducted just before Diwali have affected sales as well, with many buyers being kept busy with official election duties. To add to this, the high cost of raw materials and production has driven up firecracker prices by at least 5% to 25% this year. According to a trader, the trend of buying less noisy firecrackers has been the result of general changes in lifestyle, with people preferring to adopt eco-friendly practices.
“The rise in prices will certainly affect a few consumers. But we are confident that the sale of ground firecrackers and children’s items will be brisk,” said Afzal Reshamwala, proprietor, Elite Fireworks.
Like last year, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board organised a firecracker-testing event along with non-governmental organisation Awaaz Foundation. Some multiple unit firecrackers, such as the Red Fort 2000 shells, generated 123 decibels (dB) of noise. Under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, 125dB is the average permissible limit for noise generated by single unit firecrackers, while 115dB is the permissible limit for multiple unit firecrackers.
According to the Mumbai and Thane District Fireworks Dealers’ Welfare Association, the elections have kept a large section of buyers, such as government employees and political workers, busy, resulting in slow sales. “We are definitely seeing a slackening in the footfall compared to last year, but we believe it may speed up as late as today and tomorrow. Also, of late, a lot of people prefer to buy fireworks in their localities, instead of buying from wholesalers in Masjid,” said Minesh Mehta, honorary general secretary of the association. Mehta said, “The market is flooded with products for children that make less noise.”