Sales in Chandni Chowk plummet by nearly 70%

Chandni Chowk, one of the Capital’s oldest and busiest commercial hubs, is a shadow of its usual self this wedding season with sales slumping by as much as 70 per cent across various trades since demonetisation came into effect last month.

When The Hindu visited Chandni Chowk on Wednesday, visibly dejected retailers were waiting to make their first sale of the day at Dariba Kalan, panic-stricken jewellers had not opened their shops at Kucha Mahajani and wedding card printers at Sitaram Bazar complained about orders being downsized by customers.

‘Sales are down’

Mouj Baluja, owner of Balujas — among the oldest footwear retail businesses in Delhi having been established in 1919 — said sales are down by at least 60 per cent.

“There are days when there are practically no customers. Over the last month, 80 per cent of sales were credit-based and the remaining 20 per cent were in cash. In fact, today happens to be the first time that I was given a new Rs.500 note by a customer, which means that circulation of the new currency continues to be a major issue,” Mr. Baluja said, adding that he expected business only to pick up next Diwali.

Both traders and customers are helpless due to the lack of cash in hand, said Mr. Baluja.

Meanwhile, many of the gold and silver retail shops across from Mr. Baluja’s store are shut because of what he claims is mainly fear of possible raids.

Jewellers wary

“Jewellers like us have become easy targets since demonetisation due to reports that claimed black money was used to buy sizeable amounts of gold after the announcement,” said a local jeweller requesting anonymity.

“There are a lot of apprehensions among the jeweller community, many have decided to shut shop irrespective of whether or not they conducted a single transaction on or after November 8,” the jeweller added.

Brijesh Goyal, national convenor of the Chamber of Trade and Industry — a body that seeks to look out for traders’ interests across India — said that November was “the worst month for both trade and industry this year”.

“Sales have been affected by up to 80 per cent at local markets as well as industries where production is reported to be down by over 80 per cent because of the reduced labour force and lack of availability of raw material,” Mr. Goyal said, adding that the market will probably pick up only after six months.

‘Bad implementation’

Atul Bhargava, president of the New Delhi Market Association, said business was down by 40 per cent to 60 per cent depending on which trade one was involved in while wholesale was down by 80 per cent. “The inefficient implementation of demonetisation has not only affected sales and procurement of stock but even has store employees asking for leave so that they can stand in queues to withdraw cash. The situation will continue to remain bleak till banks release enough cash to customers which, in turn, can flow into the market,” Mr. Bhargava said.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 2:03:44 PM |

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