‘Despite Diwali Cheer, Losses for Business Owners in UP’s Hardoi’

From clothing and jewellery stores to automobile dealerships, almost all business are facing a slump in sales.

My Report
3 min read

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Video Producer: Aastha Gulati

Reduced consumer activity and market instability are two of the most important, disruptive effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Indian economy. In my hometown Hardoi, small businessmen and local vendors are facing the effects firsthand.

Medium and small enterprises in this small town of Uttar Pradesh had their hopes set on Diwali and Dhanteras to make up for lost sales during the nationwide lockdown. However, in the week leading up to these festivals, footfall remains negligible as consumer’s budgets are tight and fear of COVID-19 high. I went around the market area and spoke to several such owners about their doubts on festive buying amid the pandemic. From clothing and jewellery stores to automobile dealerships, almost all business are facing a slump in sales.

The festival time is mostly driven by big discounts and offers. However, this time, it is marred with inflation and low production. Atul Aggarwal, who runs a car and bike dealership, says customer footfall is lesser in service centres as well. “Some companies are unable to provide us batteries as their plant is working in one shift instead of two or three,” he says.

Similar is the case with electronic shops in the city.

“Because of online shopping, retail shops here are facing difficulties. People are shopping online because of coronavirus. Another difference is that electronic parts that used to come from abroad have stopped – like those of video and CCTV cameras.”
Udit Saxena, Electronics Shop Owner

With pandemic-induced conditions like these, business owners have accepted that they may not be able to meet this year’s sales target. “If, compared to last year's targets, we make 60-70 percent sales, we will consider it successful,” says Brijesh Shukla, a utensil shop owner. He adds,

“The biggest problem we are facing is that train and bus services have not resumed at full strength. Therefore, we are unable to go anywhere for marketing and neither is everything available to us. We exhausted liquid cash during the 2.5 month lockdown. The suppliers deal in cash, not credit.”
Brijesh Shukla

Local Vendors Worst-Affected

Local vendors and craftsmen, like those who make diyas and other earthen pots, are worst affected this time of the year due to a small pool of funds. Manoj Kumar, a craftsman, wonders how he will get sweets and crackers for his family. He says that there is no space to sell their diyas.

“We are ready for Diwali, but we may have to sell at lower rates as we are not finding a selling spot. Shops are asking for Rs 4,000 or 5,000 (rent), so how will we give so much by selling pottery?”
Manoj Kumar 

He adds that there needs to be a market exclusively for potters so that they can earn a living. This is similar for vendors who sell grains.

“Paddy is selling at Rs 50 or 55. Last year, it was sold at Rs 58 or 60.”
Shyamlal, Local Vendor

While wary of the coming months, owners hope shaadi season causes a boom in sales and they are able to make a recovery.

(All ‘My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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