THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Home appliances shops and consumer electronics industry are looking to make up for the losses suffered following the washout because of floods and Covid. Flower vendors are staring at hard times while prices soar
The rising number of Covid cases have dampened the festival season as residents are reluctant to venture out of their homes. Consumers have also undergone changes and they prefer to be safe and go online
This Onam, the home appliances and consumer electronics industry -- one of the worst-hit sectors -- is eyeing to get back on its feet after the slowdown caused by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The pandemic-induced restrictions have left hundreds of traders in the home appliances industry in the lurch and many are finally hoping to pick themselves up from the losses incurred ever since the pandemic outbreak this Onam season. After missing the festival markets for nearly two years, they hope to do more business in the coming days and even the days post-Onam.
Normally, the industry records 25% to 50% above the average business during Onam and this year too, they are expecting to do more business which would help them revive their businesses. During the pandemic, the industry has suffered around 70% loss in business. According to K Udayakumar, former state president of the Dealers Association of TV and Appliances (DATA), the future of their trade is totally dependent on the government policies. He said a large majority of the traders dealing with electronics and home appliances are in huge debt. There are around 2,000 dealers in Kerala under DATA.
“The shutdowns have put a permanent lock on the businesses of many. There are several traders who are unable to reopen even during Onam because of debt. Around 90% of the shops are being operated in rented spaces and, with no business happening because of the shutdown, many are in huge debt. Many are unable to pay their rents and other financial liabilities,” said K Udayakumar.
He said the government should come up with a more scientific approach in handling Covid so that trade could also happen. “Imposing more restrictions will not help the society or businesses in any way and all other states are functioning with literally no restrictions. It’s the individual responsibility to be aware of the situation and behave accordingly. Also, shops and markets are different and a shop is a more controlled environment than a market,” he said. He said that it’s high time the government stepped up and came up with solutions to support trade.
“The government should make interventions and facilitate online solutions so that the trade can adapt and grow in the current scenario. There is absolutely no doubt the trade is slowly migrating to online platforms. The products can be delivered at the doorstep with minimum expenditure if there is a centralised mechanism. This will also generate more job opportunities,” said Udayakumar.
With the arrival of Onam season, the shops are flooded with customer enquiries. Mohan Kumar S, proprietor of Appliance House, said they are getting more enquiries and customers after reopening. He said that low- and medium-range customers make purchases during Onam.
“Thiruvananthapuram market is expected to do more business compared to other districts because the majority of the customers are government employees. This year, Onam is early and so we are expecting business in the days after Onam too. People start purchasing appliances and electronic goods after making other priority purchases including textiles and groceries. We are getting plenty of enquiries and customers make the purchase from shops where they get the best deal,” said Mohan Kumar.
CUSTOMERS GO ONLINE
Mohan Kumar S said many customers are requesting door delivery of the products. “The revival of the trade industry depends on the restrictions imposed by the state government. Hope the government will not bring back weekend restrictions,” said Mohan Kumar, However, a large section of the customers has migrated to online purchases. “Restrictions are only for namesake.
There is crowding everywhere and I feel if the authorities cannot impose restrictions, they should not come up with them. I wanted to buy a new gas stove and made the purchase online,” said M Sashidharan Nair, a resident. Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti general secretary Manoj S S said the Onam market is yet to pick up and the coming weekend and the days after that would be crucial. “There is crowding everywhere but the business is yet to pick up. People are not coming out for purchasing. We hope the coming days would be better,” said Manoj.