Shoppers from surrounding districts travel long distances to visit city outlets

Shoppers surge into textile shops on South Masi Street the moment the doors open at 10 a.m. Families tumble out of buses and autorickshaws, threading their way to different shops.

The Deepavali shopping frenzy is on full display. Scenes of women sitting in groups inside showrooms with their children, and men waiting outside jewellery and sari shops, are a routine sight. Cash registers ring in textile, jewellery and consumer durable outlets across the city.

“The crowds have been steadily increasing over the last one month and are expected to increase in the next two weeks,” said an employee of A K Ahmed Textile and Readymades, one of the oldest textile showrooms in the city. The showroom has employed more than 200 salespersons and security staff to cope with the crowds during the festive season.

Sivanand. A, who owns Anand stores that sells household appliances and vessels at Vilakkuthoon, says his customers double at this time of year.

“Customers who come in to buy household appliances such as pressure cookers and frying pans are clear about what they want and come to buy with a specific product in mind,” he says.

The salaried class is driven by the special bonus employees receive for Deepavali. Shopping is carefully planned and budgeted.

“The eve of Deepavali is when we get the maximum crowd. Last year, we were forced to keep the showroom open till 2 a.m. since people kept coming to make last-minute purchases,” said a salesperson at a readymade-apparel showroom in the city.

Apart from the stand-alone showrooms selling textiles and other consumer durables, malls too have been attracting their own share of shoppers for the festival. “With electronics, clothes and jewellery available under one roof, the shopping experience in a mall is much more convenient”, says S. Keerthana, a college student.

People pour in from the surrounding districts and villages to join the shopping frenzy, travelling long distances.

N. Vasanthi, a native of Theni who has come to buy clothes and jewellery for Deepavali with her family, says that she looks forward to the annual shopping trip to the city.

“Despite planning in advance, many do their shopping at the last minute. They enjoy and look forward to the experience,” says L. Murali Krishnan, managing director of Kalyani Associates.

“The festive mood and joy of shopping with the family overshadows the crowds and parking hassles,” he notes.

With the crowds set to increase as Deepavali approaches, many textile showrooms in the city have installed additional air-coolers and have provided water dispensers on every floor.

“We have stationed people at specific points with microphones so that people who are separated from their family members can be paged. With the number of shoppers set to increase, we are working round-the-clock to provide customers with a pleasurable shopping experience,” says a salesperson at a textile showroom.