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Not yet brisk

Low percentage of bonus, government staff strike, general recession and the drought have been cited as reasons for dull business this Diwali


DEEPAVALI SEASON is considered a boom time for any business. And if this is true all market areas should witness a sea of humanity.

But, this year, in the city, the situation is at its low ebb, if the scene in the market areas around the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is any indication.

Thin crowds on the streets, only a handful of customers in many shops, heavy bargain, etc, are some pointers to the prevailing dull trend.

According to some shopkeepers, the crowd compared to the turnout in the yesteryear, is not even one-fourth.

The reasons attributed by them are low percentage of bonus, government staff strike, general recession and above all the drought situation.

"Drought has wrecked a real havoc, as majority of the customers come from the rural belts, who depend mainly on agriculture for their income, to the city", they say, adding, "moreover, many people have completed their purchase during the Aadi discount sale. This has also resulted in the fall of customers turnout".

Even the `instant' shops on pavements do not seem to do a brisk sale. "We always have to be on our toes, as the police keep chasing us away. For pavement hawkers like me, the situation is `who dares earns'. Moreover, only during this time in a year we will be able to make hay. But this year we find the going tough owing to poor finance among the customers and because of this, they bargain at their whims and fancies. However, not to skip the chance, we compromise on the profit margin as we will be unable to bear the loss", says Rehman, a cloth seller in the Temple area.

While the sellers have their own tale of sorrow, the public feel in a different way.

"Except for the textile emporiums, other business sectors have not come out with any major bonanzas for the festival season as they used to do in the past", says Ramesh, a private sector employee.

"I generally buy some electronic household articles every year during the festival sale as there may be some freebies, incentives or the products will be offered at 0% interest, on instalment basis. This year only a few companies have come out with such schemes", he says.

Parthasarathy, who runs a consumer durable showroom in the area for more than 12 years, says, "more than attracting the customers with `populist' schemes, the corporate giants are aimed at popularising their product now. Probably, everyone may be eyeing the New Year market, as, now, it is only the beginning of the festival sale".

"While we receive hundreds of enquiries a day, only a thin number of them become into orders. General recession could be one of the factors. But, the hidden reason is that there are no special offers", feels another showroom owner in a nearby area.

The police, not wanting to take a chance, have deployed a number of mobile personnel at all vantage points to ensure free movement of public and vehicles. Policemen, in plain clothes, are posted in all business hubs to avoid thefts and mischief mongers.

Abu Backer, a two-wheeler mechanic, says, "Police have made adequate arrangements. To my knowledge, not a single case of theft has so far been reported, which is a proof to this".

But what the general complaint from every one is the menace of urchins and beggars.

Many people charged that police had not initiated any steps to put an end to this.

Apart from these shop-based merchants, there is yet another group, which makes quick bucks using the festive rush: automen.

But they also don't seem to be getting the best this time.

"People find it hard, even to make the minimum purchases. Hence they are not ready to spend on hiring autorickshaws. In the previous years, it used to be a round-the-clock affair, but, now, getting even five calls has become an arduous task", says Sekar, an autorickshaw driver operating from a stand in the Town Hall area.

Recalling his past experiences, Sakthi, his colleague, says, "our vehicles will be overflowing with goods and the commuters will hardly have any space to sit. But now the situation is reverse and we get business only from our regulars."

Though the festival mood is slowly gripping the public, yet the purchasing power of people is not healthy, which might result in a subdued Deepavali this time.

But some traders who pin their hopes on the last few days' sale, say, "the sale during that phase, some times turn the tables".

M.R.ARAVINDAN

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