KOCHI: This year’s Vishu and Easter sales on Broadway, the city’s business district, has seen a massive drop in sales compared to the previous years. Most of the vendors and shopkeepers blame it on the Centre’s demonetisation (de-mon) move since the street caters mainly to those who opt for cash payments.
“Last year, sales at the Broadway market averaged `5 crore per month. However, this year the market has seen a 40 per cent decline in sales,” says P A Sajeer, president of the Broadway Shop Owners Association. Even the Vishu and Easter week has failed to push up the sales which have remained dismal,” he says.
Shamsudeen,63, who has been running a banana stall here for the last 30 years, says, “In all my years here, the business has never been so dull. I blame the price hike on the truckers’ stir last month.”
The truckers’ strike pushed up the prices of these products to almost double their original price. The ones hit most by the drop in the sales are the small-scale vendors who run their own vegetable and fruit carts.
A hike in the prices of the commodities and the cash-shortage caused by demonetisation all reduce the purchasing power of the working class, who are the main customers of these vendors. Some retailers,though, remain hopeful their sales will pick up in the coming days on Vishu and Easter eve or in the days to follow.
“There is usually an increase in sales in the days after Vishu and Easter which is when most people come to spend the festival bonus,” says Mohammed Aftab,30, who runs an appliance store on Broadway.
The season’s leit motifs-- set-saris,’Kanikonna’ and idols of Lord Krishna-- which usually fly off the shelves during this time of the year, now sit on the racks gathering dust.
Even after we started canvassing and giving out coupons to the customers,the sales have only picked up marginally, says Neetha Shenoy proprietor of ‘Adithi’, a textiles outlet. Not even the essential ingredients of the traditional Vishu ‘sadya’ like rice, jaggery and sugar have seen a noticeable rise in sales.
The flower merchants too have been badly hit as a result of the plummeting business, which has seen their numbers dwindle to a mere two.
“We are managing somehow but the other shop owners had to close down their stalls because they had no business and they were incurring losses,” says Shaji, 38, a staffer.The shopkeepers and the wayside vendors are unanimous in their view demonetisation is to blame for the staggering shortfall witnessed in business.
Since majority of the regular customers do not have access to credit or debit cards and net banking,the trend of digital transactions has left them woefully short of cash. This effects not only the purchasing power of the working class but also the income of these vendors.
The de-mon fallout will take at least one-and- a-half years to set itself right,according to the traders.
“Until then the best we can do is to hold on and hope the fall in sales is only temporary,” says Abbas Pulokkatil.