For T. Nagar's vendors, Sunday's crowds were encouraging amidst a season that has been marked by fewer footfalls and lacklustre sales.
On Sunday, the massive crowds at jewellery, textile and general merchandise outlets at T. Nagar brought much-needed respite to shopkeepers, who had been complaining of a gloomy festival season. Conservative estimates put footfalls per shop in T. Nagar to be around 15,000 every day last year, but this year, it is to yet to pick up.
“The rush usually begins immediately after Ayudha Puja, but this year, sales were lacklustre even a week before Deepavali. People seem to have cut down on shopping due to price rise,” said K. Anbuthambi, a retailer on Ranganathan street. The stretch, with over 70 shops, attracts over 10 lakh people during this time of the year. With many firms and even government offices delaying their bonuses, buyers have postponed their shopping plans to the last minute.
Ambika Kumari, a teacher, said that her family savings had taken a hit this year. “We are buying clothes only for children,” she said.
Retailers are expecting an uneven year. Textile mart owners are better off than jewellers. “The cost of saris, except original silk ones, is stable while that of jewellery has shot up by at least 30 per cent. Hence, most shoppers prefer clothes,” said M. Rajakumar of Saravana stores. However, even the textile giants of T. Nagar have departed from the practice of filling their shelves with traditional designs. “There are not many types of saris to choose from. Besides, people increasingly prefer ready-made garments,” said Mr. Rajaram.
Online jewellery has become a popular option among shoppers, say industry insiders. “People spend a maximum of Rs. 30,000 on jewellery during this time and find the online medium more convenient,” said Ajay Kumar of Vummidi Bangaru. Narayani Sundar, a shopper, confirmed this trend. “Though there are always some articles for which you have to come to T. Nagar, most of my purchases are made online. You can avoid crowded market areas or stores and parking challenges,” she added.
Preparations are on at various sweet shops in the city too even as business seems dull. Prices have soared by at least 30 per cent, thanks to escalating prices of raw materials. “But since the low-key sales were anticipated, the amount of wastage will be significantly less than last year,” said Raja Narayanan, Amutha sweets.