Diwali shopping: The spark is missing in Gujarat

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on October 23, 2019 Published on October 23, 2019

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Shop owners lose 40-80 per cent business amid weak sentiment, online purchases

The festival of the year — Diwali is here. But thin crowds at markets and malls are a clear indication of the not-so-sparkling festivities this year.

If the markets in Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara are any yardstick for urban spending, it is no surprise that traders are calling it an almost “mute” Diwali with some isolated bright sparks in select pockets.

In Ahmedabad, the iconic shopping streets, Relief Road in old city area, CG Road and SG Highway, have visibly thin crowds of shoppers. Shop owners complain of multiple factors taking the sheen away from their Diwali sale.

Also read: Online, personal loans light up Diwali shopping

Vasantbhai Tirodkar, President of Footwear Retailers’ Association in Ahmedabad, believes that the retail spend has taken a hit due to poor sentiment and heavy discounting by online players. “Our business is eclipsed by online players. Most of us are sitting on 20 per cent sale of last year. Diwali is just a few days away, but it doesn’t feel so.”

The situation is nearly same for garment, footwear, accessories, electronics and textile retailers, who have got only about 40-60 per cent of last year’s business.

However, the malls are seeing increasing footfalls. Nexus Malls, which runs AhmedabadOne Mall has seen footfalls rising over last year. “The last weekend was very good for us. We are doing better this Diwali than last year. The growth is in almost double-digit and we are implementing additional measures and offering freebies, lucky draws to attract more footfall,” said Jayen Naik of AhmedabadOne Mall.

But the owner of a shop inside the mall says, “The sales are about 20 per cent down than last year. The ticket size has also reduced as we can see people are buying fewer goods. Many others just visit and leave the store.”

Jayendra Tanna, President of All India Vyapar MahaMandal, stated that the retail business is hit by multiple factors including a shift to online shopping, reduced spending power and overall slowdown.

This year the Diwali shopping appears to be just a formality. “There is no spark. The circulation of money isn’t happening. Retailers aren’t getting business, and, hence, don’t keep stocks. High spending community has also curtailed their spend. The overall sentiment this Diwali is weak,” Tanna told BusinessLine.

In Surat — the hub for textiles — buying picked up only in the last week ahead of Diwali. “People don’t prefer to spend more. The small and middle income group — which are large spenders — are worried about their survival. The Government has not done enough to push up demand,” said Devkishan Mangani, Advisor, Textile Trade Committee, Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce.

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Published on October 23, 2019
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