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Indore: After a gap of almost two months, markets in the city reopen to poor customer response

12:13 AM Jun 11, 2021 | Staff Reporter

BHOPAL: New Market, Sindhi Market, Sarafa Bazaar, Lakherapura, Somvara and other markets in the Old and the New cities wore a deserted look during the day. The fear of Covid was clearly visible in the markets. All the shopkeepers and their staff were wearing masks and ropes had been tied at the entrance points to stop customers from crowding inside. The visitors were also masked. As the markets were not crowded at all, there was no question of violation of social distancing norms.

In New Market, civic and police personnel were repeatedly making announcements asking shopkeepers and customers to adhere to corona norms. The few caught without masks were fined.

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Traders and businessmen say the poor response of the customers is partly because of the fear of Covid, but mainly because people simply do not have money to spend. Businesses have been shut, jobs have been lost and salaries have been slashed. In such a situation, how can one hope that people will spend money on shopping? they ask.

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Bhishma Raj Dev, owner of Kalp Mobile Kingdom at Somvara, said that the customer turnout at his shop was just 15% of the normal. "I opened shop at 12 noon and I've been able to sell just one mobile till 2 pm," he said. He did not think people were keeping away from the markets for fear of catching an infection. "People simply donít have money to spend. And whatever they have they want to keep with them," he said.

ìYou can see for yourself,î Siddhartha Jain of SK Furniture, Sindhi Market, said when asked how business was. "Till now, Iíve had two inquiries and zero sales," he said. "It's not the fear of the disease, but a lack of cash thatís keeping people away," he said.

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Pramod Agarwal of Sajni Sari, Lakherapura, pointing at the deserted street outside his shop, said that no customer had entered his shop since morning. He said that with the wedding season already over, there was little hope of business picking up. "But, let's see. Today is only the first day," he said.

Vijayvargiya Jewellers had been visited by just three customers since morning and both were looking for small items to gift someone.

Firoza Bi had come to the market from her Koh-e-Fiza residence to buy bed-sheets. She said she was visiting the market after three months and was shocked to find that everything was dearer. "I paid Rs 40 for bangles that would have cost me Rs 20 earlier," she said.

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Lalchand Lochani, owner of Hind Opticals, Lakherapura, said that his shop was open since June 1. "People are coming only to get their old spectacles repaired. There are no new purchases," he said.

Aman Chaudhary of Rajshri Jewellers, Sarafa Bazaar, also said that only four persons had visited his shop and that, too, only to get repairs done.

Bombay Bangles in New Market was visited only by three customers from 11 am to 3 pm. Mahesh Khurana of Haryana Handlooms said that people were purchasing only essential items. "They're unwilling to spend money on conveniences and luxuries. People apprehend that things may again go wrong," he said.

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Manoj Tamrakar of Pradeep Patra Bhandar gave the same reason for the thin crowds in the markets. ìLogon ki arthik sthiti theek nahin hai,î he said.

Naveen Ahuja of Prakash Music Centre, sellers of many brands of mobiles, said that people wanted home deliveries. ìWeíre trying to work out how we can do that,î he said.

The owner of LakmÈ Hosiery, New Market, which also stocks cosmetics, said he had sold some pieces of undergarments since morning.

Narayan Lalwani of Mom and Me complained that not a single customer had visited his shop. "I've been waiting for customers since 12 noon. It's 5 pm now. Bohni bhi nahi hui hai," he said.

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Only actual shoppers...

"The market is very orderly. There's no crowding. Everythingís okay. Corona norms are being followed by everyone. Only actual buyers are visiting the market. Window-shoppers are keeping away." -Satish Gangrade, president, New Market Vyapari Sangh

Business barely 20%

"People are not coming out due to fear. Business is barely 20% of that on normal days." -Shyam Babu Agarwal, president, Rajdhani Vyabsayi Sangh

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