Another punch in the face for traders

People shopping in a market in the Capital.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Traders and market associations fear that the Delhi government’s decision to shut markets in response to the sudden spate in COVID-19 cases in the city will dent their hopes of retrieving some of the loss caused by the lockdown. Besides, it will affect business during the ongoing marriage season.

At the same time, the decision to restrict attendees at marriages has dampened the spirits of families and banquet hall operators.

“Business in Connaught Place had just begun to pick up and now there is the fear of it being affected once again. I am completely on board with the government taking any step necessary to control the disease but stricter enforcement of social distancing norms is the solution. Not shutting shops,” said Atul Bhargava, president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association (NDTA).

Sanjay Bhargava, president of the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal said traders had a tiny window to break even on the losses triggered by the lockdown. “The [wedding] season is on till January. The problem is lack of enforcement when it comes to illegally set-up shops in large markets like Chandni Chowk, where following social-distancing norms are impossible,” he said.

A lockdown was the simplest solution to curb virus spread, but it wasn’t so for shopkeepers, opined Anil Gupta, a trader based in east Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar.

“We are already following social distancing guidelines. If the government has any doubt, they should randomly check busy markets and fine shopowners for violating norms,” he said.

At C.R. Park, shopkeepers have started stocking up, lest a lockdown is imposed. Saraswati Halder, a grocer, said: “When we heard there is a possibility of a lockdown, we immediately decided to stock up on grains like rice. Last time when the lockdown was imposed, everyone was caught unawares and items were flying off the shelves within minutes. This time, we want to be as prepared as possible.”

Pooja Kapoor, a resident of north-west Delhi, who is getting married in a banquet in west Delhi on November 25, said her family is worried.

Wedding blues

“It is a tense situation. The Chief Minister can’t play with numbers like that. He should not have given the relaxation in the first place. Only wedding gatherings do not contribute towards the spread. And if the concern is for public health then he should ideally close all restaurants, cinema halls, religious places and other social gathering spots,” she said.

The family has invited 200 people as allowed earlier and it’ll be embarrassing to tell them not to come, she said.

Vikaas Gutgutia, MD of FNP Gardens, says they are booked to host 10-12 weddings each in the coming days across 11 venues but are now anticipating changes or delays. “Many clients who were to get married in May had pushed their wedding to November- December. They are again looking to postpone it to the next year. Because of these cancellations and alterations, all the associated units have been affected,” Mr. Gutgutia said.

(With inputs from Nikhil M Babu, Hemani Bhandari, Jaideep Deo Bhanj, Shinjini Ghosh, Saurabh Trivedi and Jatin Anand)

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 8:46:02 PM |

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