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Inflation dampens the festive spirit

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AT WHAT PRICE?: Judicious spending marked this year’s Deepavali celebrations. —
AT WHAT PRICE?: Judicious spending marked this year’s Deepavali celebrations. —

V.S. Palaniappan

COIMBATORE: The overall inflation, specifically the soaring prices of essential commodities, has dampened the festive spirit that normally marks the festival of lights – Deepavali – in Coimbatore. Yet, people continued to buy on Sunday whatever possible to make this year’s festival as bright as last year’s.

A moment people normally viewed as one that brought prosperity in their lives saw this time a marked hesitation among them in buying clothes, fire crackers, jewellery and even sweets. But, of all these items, the most unavoidable were the crackers, because there was no Deepavali without these.

As for the other items, while the heart was in the festivities, the eye was on the price tag.

Even the Deepavali bonus did not seem to have helped people in overcoming the impact of inflation totally.

S.D. Subbu, a cracker merchant in the city, said the fire cracker business had not been affected to a great extent. Prices of firecrackers had gone up by a minimum of 30 per cent to 40 per cent. The reason cited was that the labour-intensive cracker industry had to shell out huge sums of money for the labour and the recently concluded Olympics in Beijing had also accelerated the demand for crackers in the domestic market. The labour cost had also gone up manifold because of the inflation. This had resulted in the rise in the prices of crackers. No family had totally given up fire crackers.

Earlier, a family that used to buy the essential number of fire crackers for sums between Rs.300 and Rs.1,000 had spent Rs.500 to Rs.1,200 this year. Heavy rain over the last few days had affected the business of the roadside merchants as people hated to venture out.

The production volume of the textile industry had also come down.

Readymade garment and dress manufacturers had scaled down their production capacity by a minimum of 25 per cent to 45 per cent anticipating reluctance on the part of the market.

While branded garment and dress materials continue to witness the same market response, the middle and the low-end segments seemed to have felt the pinch of the market situation.

As for jewellery, a manager of a shop on Cross-Cut Road said business was not as expected. Comparatively, there were more footfalls in textile shops.

Money was there to be spent, but the buyers were reluctant to spend. Traders felt that people wanted to spend judiciously in a very fluid economic situation.

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