CHENNAI:A week after the clamour for helmets sent their price northward, slackening demand and government crackdown have brought the cost down to more reasonable levels. Customers walking into the city’s helmet shops on Wednesday and Thursday could pick up non-ISI marked headgear for around Rs 500, which is half of the price witnessed in the previous week.
The reason, say sellers, is two fold — fall in demand, now that the deadline has passed, and a comprehensive but low key crackdown by the State government. “We were paid a visit by officials from the Labour department on Monday who warned us that there were several complaints and asked us to desist from quoting above the MRP. The prices have reduced also because demand has come down and a few consignments have arrived at more reasonable prices,” said an attendant at a shop in Thousand Lights area.
According to shopkeepers and government officials, the initial sky rocketing of prices was because of the opportunism displayed by wholesalers in Delhi and Kerala, who increased the price to over Rs 800 - 1000 per helmet. “Almost every shop we raided said selling helmets at the rates mandated by the government would see them incur loss of over Rs 200 per piece because of the wholesale price in the northern market,” said an official in the Legal Metrology section of the Labour department which regulates prices. “We made it clear that it is not acceptable to sell helmets at those rates and intimated our colleagues in Delhi and Tiruvananthapuram to regulate the prices of wholesalers there,” he added.
An official said, the challenge was to strike a balance between seizures and inducing a further shortage on the market. “The approach we were instructed to follow was to make initial warnings and effect token seizures. If vendors persisted in selling helmets at high prices, we booked cases,” he said. The crackdown seems to have worked. Ever since Labour Commissioner P Amudha warned shopkeepers to stick to the MRP and helpline numbers for districts were made public, prices are on a downward spiral.