Though dubbed as the festival of lights, Deepavali has been associated with high-decibel sounds over the years. But with less than a week left for the biggest festival in this part of the world, the sound of fireworks is yet to ring in the streets. Going by cracker sellers, this Deepavali would be about more light and less sound.
It is not just the number of shops selling fireworks that have come down, but sales have also taken a beating, ensuing in an unusually quiet run up to Deepavali. Wholesale dealers and retailers are disappointed with the ‘dull sales' attributed to various reasons from price hike and restricted sales to election frenzy and attempts to control pollution.
“Sales is yet to pick up and we make only Rs.400 a day now,” says Kausi, a salesperson at K.K.Nagar. Most of the goods remain untouched though the shop was opened a week back. Another fireworks seller Charles, an old hand in the business, says delay of issuing temporary licences has impacted sales.
A common trend that has surfaced in recent years is continuing strong this year, with fancy aerial fireworks finding favour with adults and children over their noisy counterparts. Surendran, a wholesale dealer says, “There are no takers for explosive crackers. Everyone seems to prefer fancy fireworks.
These fireworks explode in the sky with a shower of colours and produce little noise or soil pollution and are projected as the less hazardous version.” There is little or no demand for deafening fireworks like atom and hydrogen bombs and 100walas. But sparklers, flower pots and chakras continue to enjoy patronage.
“We have forayed into the fireworks market for the first time and sales have been below expectations,” says Mohanasundaram who has a stall on Bharathidasan Salai. “Election frenzy has overshadowed Deepavali and purchases seem to have been put on hold.”
Hoping that results of the local body elections would set the cash registers ringing, he notes that a hike in prices has created a dent in the budget set aside for crackers.
Rising labour costs and other expenses have triggered prices.
“Though middle class families are willing to spend Rs. 1,000 and more on fireworks, hike in prices means they need to dig deeper. A few years back you would get a huge box for Rs. 500. Today, even Rs. 2,000 will fetch you a small bag,” adds Mohansundaram.