ON MOST Saturday afternoons, Shehzad and Sartaj are busy attending to customers who throng their wedding apparel shop, Alina Prince, in old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. But this Saturday, their shutters are down.
“Wedding season is when we do maximum business. But we have been forced to close the shop. It is not that there is no demand in the market but there is very less cash for transaction of business,” says Shehzad. Between, 1.40 pm and 2.30 pm, Shehzad tells two customers that they are unable to take advance orders for sherwanis.
When both customers ask for the clothes to be delivered in the first week of December, Shehzad refuses and asks them to come next week. “I can take the orders, but I cannot ensure deliveries. Right now, my only priority is to deliver the old orders on time. I have to pay my workers and the tailors. For each sherwani, I have to pay a minimum of Rs 400 to the tailor. I have more than a dozen orders to be delivered. But I have no money to pay them. Only once I receive cash from these orders can I accept fresh orders,” says Shehzad.
“The government should have ensured a credit facility before announcing the scheme. How can someone run a business with Rs 4,000 in hand?” he adds.
Less then 50 metres away is Dariba Kalan, which trades in costume jewellery. On Saturday, the bustling streets wore a deserted look after a raid by income tax authorities.
However, shopkeeper Vasant Kumar Gupta had other things to worry about. Gupta had to open his shop briefly after he could not deliver jewellery to a customer.
“I have a shortage of liquid cash. I had to return the money and cancel the order. There is a myth that people are hoarding money by buying gold. This is creating fear among people and hampering business. Because of this, even honest customers have to be sent back,” says Gupta.
In Kinari Bazaar, famous for turning bundles of notes into garlands, dozens of shops are closed. Only a few can be found selling garlands of Rs 50 denomination.
Sachin Goyal said he had to ask six of his relatives to withdraw cash to shop for his cousin’s wedding and to buy these garlands. “The garland offered during a wedding is worth Rs 1 lakh. But we are buying worth a quarter of this,” says Goyal.
Sunil, owner of Divya Place, which sells these garlands, says, “Most shops are closed. Some are selling garlands with Rs 50 denomination. Once these are also sold out, we will stop selling them till the situation returns to normal.”
According to the traffic police about 30,000 weddings were set to take place on Saturday.