Fireworks 90 per cent cheap, cracker of a sale in Sivakasi

Several shopkeepers who have been in the business for years said that despite heavy footfall, the spike in the number of shops has hit the purchase quantity this year
Shopkeepers setting up a cracker retail outlet in Coimbatore | S Senbagapandiyan
Shopkeepers setting up a cracker retail outlet in Coimbatore | S Senbagapandiyan

VIRUDHUNAGAR:  B Sampath Kumar, of Chennai, was up at 4.30 am on Thursday, but not for morning jog. The 40-year-old drove 500 km to Sivakasi to purchase firecrackers at a dirt-cheap price. After the first round of window shopping, Sampath bought crackers worth Rs 15,000 from five shops.  

“Crackers are sold at discounted rates, in addition to another 50% off, in this region,” said Sampath. Like him, people from Coimbatore, Salem, Tiruchy and Pondicherry have jumped on the bandwagon. TNIE’s interaction with customers at different shops revealed that the enthusiasm for travelling the distance comes from the varieties of crackers sold at discounted rates. Police personnel deployed near Amathur, which is on the way to Sivakasi, said, “At least 7,000 vehicles have been passing daily since the beginning of November.”

As a result, multiple cracker shops have sprung up on either side of the route, with banners screaming discounts, going up to 90%. In the catalog of one of the shops on Thiruthangal Road, 10 pieces of ground chakkar were priced at just `68. The MRP of the product was Rs 755, according to the catalog. Manufacturers, traders, and shop owners said that since customers bargain after purchase, retail shops have started abnormally hiking prices and then giving discounts. This would prevent customers from asking for discounts after purchase.

As a cracker manufacturing unit owner, S Subramanian (46), explained, “The actual rate of 10 pieces of ground chakkar is Rs 45. Ideally, a shopkeeper in this region will sell those for Rs 55, keeping a 20% profit margin, and an additional reasonable price margin in other cities.” However, the strategy of hiking prices and then giving discounts is done by the majority of the shops in the region to meet people’s expectations of getting discounts. The shopkeepers, however, also lamented misuse of powers by officials, who demand extra discounts.

Bulk purchase takes a hit
Several shopkeepers who have been in the business for years said that despite heavy footfall, the spike in the number of shops has hit the purchase quantity this year. “Hoping to make a profit, many people start their cracker venture,” they said. Sources from the revenue department said new DRO licences were issued to 382 cracker shops in the district, between January and October. It is to be noted that a total of 2,317 DRO-licensed cracker shops and 646 PESO-licensed shops are functioning in the district.

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