Saturday markets return after 2 months in Noida, traders expect to see green shoots soonUpdated: Sep 05, 2020, 22:57 IST
With the Uttar Pradesh government partially lifting weekend restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19, markets in the city opened on Saturday for the first time in almost two months, bringing a sigh of relief to traders who hope their business will pick up soon.
According to traders’ associations, more shoppers made it to the markets on Saturday as compared to the weekdays, a development that has given rise to expectations in many shopkeepers that they will be able to recover a fraction of losses they incurred first because of the nationwide lockdown and then the statewide weekend closure.
“The move has definitely brought some relief among the traders as the market attracts more customers on weekends. Even though markets will remain closed on Sunday, we expect a rise in business by at least 15 to 20% as now markets have been allowed to open their shutters on Saturdays. Due to the pandemic, almost every trader’s business has been hit at least 50 % as compared to the pre-Covid time. However, keeping the market open on Saturday will benefit us to some extent,” said president of Sector 18 market association, Sushil Kumar Jain, who is also the head of Confederation of All India Traders Association, (Delhi-NCR chapter). He added certain businesses like those involved in event management, hospitality, tourism etc will take their more time to recover, several other businesses will see better recovery with more customers allowed to shop on Saturdays.
In an order issued on September 1, UP had allowed marked to open on Saturdays across the state limiting weekend restrictions on markets only to Sundays.
“Traders are happy with the decision, and the market witnessed more crowd as compared to weekdays, especially in shops that deal exclusively in items for women. Given the trend today (Saturday), we expect a rise in sales by at least 30 percent in the coming weekend. Noida is home to many people who engage in blue-collar jobs and only get time to shop on Saturdays and Sundays. Though the market will stay shut on Sundays, being open for business on Saturday would help in recovering our losses,” said CB Jha, head, Atta market association.
On July 9, the Uttar Pradesh government had announced statewide weekend restrictions mandating markets to remain shut on Saturdays and Sundays during which extensive sanitisation drives were to be taken up to break the chain of Covid-19 infection. With the new instructions, markets need to be cleaned every Sunday and shops can remain open from 9am to 9pm on the rest of the days of the week.
In neighbouring Ghaziabad district as well, traders said they expect to see some green shoots in their business soon.
“Now that the government has allowed markets to operate on Saturday after two months, we expect at least 20% recovery soon, and if the government allows us to open on Sundays, then the sales could hike by nearly 30%,” said Pradeep Gupta, convenor, Indrapuram Vypari Ekta Sansthan—a traders’ body.
Meanwhile, shopping malls in the city also saw a better footfall as the September 1 order allowed them to remain open for business for longer.
“On weekdays, we usually see a footfall of 4,000 to 5000 persons, but this being the first Saturday when we are getting to operate for full 12 hours (9am to 9pm) since the lockdown, we saw in number of visitors. Today we saw a footfall of around 9,000 visitors by just 6pm. The actual figures would be clear by tomorrow. Most of the visitors headed towards the food court. Earlier in June, we did operate on Saturdays but working hours were restricted and we had to start closing the shops by 6.30 to 7 am.,” said Amit Taneja, vice-president, operations, Logix mall.
Malls in UP were allowed to open on June 8 with restrictions on their timings.
Earlier on May 21, the shops in markets were allowed to open on an odd-even basis. Later, on July 15, the state government lifted the odd-even restrictions and allowed them to open for five days in a week.
Markets’ association now want the state government to remove weekend curbs completely and restricting the closures of shops for sanitisation on a weekday. “We request the government to allow the markets to open on Sundays as well, and close the market on a weekday. This would help with better recovery of business,” said Jain.
The district administration, however, warned of a rise in the number of coronavirus cases if social distancing norms are not followed in overcrowded markets.
“There could be a rise in the number of Covid-19 positive cases if markets are overcrowded. It is, therefore, important for people to maintain social distance, wear masks, and keep a sanitiser handy. If precautions are not followed by people, then given the rising crowd in markets the Covid-19 cases will naturally increase,” said Dr Deepak Ohri, chief medical officer, Gautam Budh Nagar.
Noida authority, that is responsible for disinfecting market places, said it now only get one day to hold sanitisation drives in all markets.
“Markets will now be sanitised on Sundays only. The drive would be intensified now, though we don’t need extra workforce as we have enough people (around 4,000 workers) for the drive as of now,” said SC Mishra, project engineer, health, Noida authority.