THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state is gearing up for Eid al Adha and the government has granted several relaxations to mark the occasion. The markets have once again come alive. However, price hikes and online shopping are proving to be a problem for shopkeepers
After a gap, city markets have started buzzing with activities yet again as the state government has relaxed curbs in the wake of Eid al Adha, which would be celebrated on Wednesday.While traders, who had been reeling under the pandemic and the lockdown, are relieved to resume business, those in traditional marketplaces, including Chalai and Palayam markets, witnessed dull turnout.
The traditional traders continue to struggle to make ends meet as a majority of shoppers migrate to online platforms and retail chains for doing purchases during Eid al Adha. The future looks bleak for many traders as the pandemic threat continues to loom large, changing the buying capacity and shopping habits of customers.
Feroz Khan, who has been running a shoe shop at Chalai market, said business remains dull. “This is my family business. We have been running this shop for the past 35 years. However, I don’t want my next generation to take up our family business. There is no future in it,” he said.
“We kept the shop open till 7.30pm on Sunday but failed to find buyers. It’s 11.30am now but none has turned up so far. People are not coming to markets anymore. There is huge rush at retail chains and interestingly, the Covid restrictions don’t apply to such retail shops. Those apply only to us,” lamented Feroz. He said the government should have granted relaxations on Saturday too.
“After Eid al Adha, they will bring back the restrictions and the future looks bleak for many like me. The government is trying to please the healthcare sector and police personnel by imposing restrictions on us,” he added.According to traders, Eid is one of the seasons they look up to do good business. Textile and shoe shops do good business. Mohammad Asif, who owns a textile shop, said they didn’t procure new stock fearing dull business.
“People are struggling and don’t have the financial capacity to spend more. A majority of the customers we get are daily wage workers and normally there is more crowd. Now the market is almost deserted. We haven’t unpacked the limited stock, hoping the market would pick up at least by Onam,” says Asif.
A steep hike in the prices of essential commodities and products amid the pandemic is adding to the woes of shoppers and traders alike. Mini K, a resident of Kesavadasapuram, who came for shopping, complained about the price hike.
“The pandemic has ruined our lives. My husband is a daily wage worker and we are struggling to cover even the daily expenses. Living costs have gone up amid the pandemic. Celebrations are meant only for the privileged,” said Mini.
Suresh Kumar, another shopper, also complained about the price rise. “Prices of cooking gas, fuel and everything have gone up during the pandemic. Everything costs more and our salaries or wages haven’t increased,” said Suresh,With the Eid al Adha market failing to pick up for many, traders are demanding more reasonable relaxations and financial aid from the government.
P M A Khader, who runs a grocery shop at Chalai, said the government should withdraw the restrictions and allow all shops to open every day. “There will not be any rush if there is no restriction. The prices of groceries have gone up due to the rise in fuel prices. Everything costs more,” he said.
Syamala S, who has been running a small wayside fruit stall for the past 45 years at Chalai, said she used to do business worth Rs 4,000 daily when things were normal. “Now I hardly earn Rs 1,000 after sitting under the hot sun all day. Once the fruits become stale, I won’t be able to sell them,” said Syamala.