April 12, 2021 11:00:39 am
With the surging number of Covid cases in the capital and increasing restrictions being put into place, traders across the city are once again reporting a dip in footfall and sales.
‘Kamar seedhi bhi nahi hui jo pichhle saal toot gayi thi,” said Ashok Randhawa, president Mini Market Traders’ Association, Sarojini Nagar. After trade in the city had come to a near halt during the months following the imposition of the national lockdown last year, Randhawa said that business had started to pick up before Diwali and had reached around 50-60 per cent of footfall and sales in pre-Covid times.
“Now with the surge and restrictions, we have once again seen a fall. In the course of the week, footfall came down to 60 per cent of last week’s. We had been looking forward to sales in the wedding season and Navratri but the new caps will greatly affect that as well… Boys who work in the shops have also started going back to their villages because of lockdown fears and rumours,” he said.
Bigger, more spacious retail markets such as Connaught Place have also seen a dip in customers. Atul Bhargava, president New Delhi Traders’ Association, said that business had gotten better between October and February, but even then it was at around 50 per cent of pre-Covid sales.
“Shoes and ready-made garments sales had done quite well at that time. Even though this is an open area with larger stores, the health and safety fear is high right now. Just a look at the empty parking lots is a clear sign of how low the footfall is,” he said.
Traders across markets are anticipating a further fall in footfall in the days to come. “Almost 11,000 cases were reported on Sunday so we’re expecting lesser visitors from tomorrow. We’re currently at 70 per cent of the footfall that we had a week ago… The biggest problem in markets is congestion but hawkers in the lanes not maintaining COVID precautions and unregulated traffic is something that the administration is not doing anything about,” said Sanjay Bhargava president Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal.
Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary Confederation of All India Traders, estimated that in the course of the last week, retail markets have seen a loss of 30 per cent of business activities and wholesale markets a loss of 15-20 per cent. The national traders’ body wrote to the Prime Minister’s office on Sunday suggesting that other measures such as staggered work timings for different activities be considered before adopting night curfews or lockdowns as precautionary mechanisms.
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