Ramzan brings little cheer to Hyderabad’s Old City traders

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on May 22, 2020 Published on May 22, 2020

Shops around the famous Charminar in Hyderabad are facing an unprecedented low in business during the Ramzan season this year due to the coronavirus as streets are almost empty on Friday.   -  G Naga Sridhar

Muhammad Zubair, who runs a bangle store in the Lad Bazar near Charminar has no customers this Ramzan   -  G Naga Sridhar

Buyers spending little post lockdown; impact on tiny shops to last several months

Ramzan has always been special for the historic city of Hyderabad — for religious reasons as well as for the huge business it generates during the month-long festivities.

But the pandemic and nearly two-month lockdown have truly eaten into the quantum of business this year. This is seen to continue to have an impact on the socio-economic life of the people for many months to come after the celebration Id-ul-Fitr.

The four-century-old majestic Charminar in the Old City now oversees almost empty streets most of the day even as all shops have to be shuttered before 7 pm, when the night curfew begins due to lockdown restrictions.

The shops mostly sell clothes and accessories, imitation jewellery, footwear and food items. Apart from catering to the locals, Ramzan shopping in the Old City is also a big tourist pull, and several foreigners are seen thronging the narrow streets every year. This year, though, it’s all down to zilch.

“We do business to the tune of ₹6 lakh in this one month alone every year but I have not sold even goods worth ₹10,000 so far this year,” Muktar Ahmed, who runs a garment store in a lane next to the Charminar, told BusinessLine on Friday.

For Muhammad Zubair of A1 Bangle Stores in Lad Bazar, business has come down to zero this year. “We just opened two days ago after the relaxation of the lockdown. There are no customers so far. I am unable to pay wages to my sales personnel,” he said.

Full-year impact

According to the local administration, there are nearly 3,000 business establishments near Charminar. Over two dozen businessmen with whom BusinessLine interacted had the same story to tell — that business this year is down by nearly 90 per cent.

Arriving at an exact figure is tough, given the largely unorganised nature of the businesses. Typically, the local traders see average business of ₹2-3 lakh each during the Ramzan month.

The volume of business during Ramzan is generally so high that for many establishments it forms about 40 per cent of the total annual revenue. “The biggest hit this year is for footwear and clothes businessmen,” said M Yusuf, who owns an outlet called Best Footwear.

The lack of work over the past two months have left many among the poor with no income. “First of all, there are only a few customers. Secondly, they don’t have much money to shop,” said Yusuf.

Food outlets selling haleem and other items have also been under severe stress.

Struggling along with the shop owners are a large number of hawkers. According to Ramesh, a municipal supervisor in the area, every year, there would be over 2,000 hawkers selling various goods on the streets during Ramzan. “As you see, we have hardly a couple of hundred now,” he rued.

Published on May 22, 2020

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