Sluggish sales, inflation and online shopping leave traders worried

Market outside the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar
A woman walks past a market outside the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on January 14, 2022 | Photo: Syed Shahriyar/Religion Unplugged

SRINAGAR — Markets in Kashmir witnessed a thin footfall of shoppers ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, the festival of sacrifices, while the trade leaders term the recession, inflation and online marketing as the main reasons behind the sluggish market.

The shopkeepers told the news agency KNO that they were expecting a good sale but said the markets lacked enthusiasm. They said the flow is even low than Eid-ul-Fitr.

People were seen jostling and swarming around mutton and bakeries shops; however, the overall market sentiment was low, the shopkeepers said, adding that their business has shrunk and the middle-class people are facing the music when they have to get the necessary items on Eid despite facing a huge financial crunch.

Sameer Ahmad, a trader from Anantnag, said that despite Covid restrictions in the last two years, sales were good and whosoever was visiting his shop was purchasing at least a couple of items. “This time, the sales remained at an all-time low because the customers are not in a position to afford items.”

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Another trader from Srinagar said, “Sales on Eid-ul-Fitr were low but today, it is very low. We are very much worried.” He added, “Inflation and poverty due to COVID-19 lockdowns have badly hit J&K and the poor are hardly able to make ends meet.”

Irfan Ahmad, a shopkeeper dealing with readymade garments, said he used to make lakhs of rupees in sales on festive occasions but this year, very few customers are visiting his shop. “One out of 10 customers is able to afford an item,” he said.

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Javaid Ahmad Bhat, said that business is slumping in Kashmir as well as in other parts of the country, including Delhi, due to the recession. He said that online shopping is also playing a part as the young generation prefers online shopping.

“Market is not good, and as per the ground situation, business is down by around 50 per cent as compared to Eid-ul-Azha last year,” he said and added that the horticulture sector was hit last year and its impact is coming to the fore. “The handicrafts and industries are also suffering badly.”

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President, Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Mohammad Yaseen Khan said that business is very down mainly because of inflation and markets are witnessing a very low rush. He said that people owe money to financial institutions as in the last few years, business was almost on halt and people have to first clear the debt amount.

“There is no business on the ground, that too on the festival. We won’t say how much per cent down is business but the fact is that there is no business on the ground,” Khan said, adding, “Even the main markets that used to remain jam-packed on such occasions are deserted today.”

The KTMF president said the government has been spending money for development purposes like Smart City Project and they can’t do anything about inflation.

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