H1N1 hits I-Day shopping

Dip in sale of flags even on pavements, traffic junctions

 
The kind of patriotic fever that is experienced at this time annually is clearly missing, says Veerana of Uma Shankar Cloth Stores, located at ‘Grain Bazaar’ in City Market, the stronghold for flag dealers and distributors. “With the swine flu creating panic and even claiming its first victim in the City on Thursday, most people are not inclined towards purchasing anything now,” he adds.

Sales on pavements and traffic junctions used to be very brisk. “People are reluctant to buy even if badges, flags or brooches bearing the tri-colour are sold at half the price,” he laments.

The tailors at Lakshmi Narayan Cloth Centre in the bazaar are busy stitching flags to make them available before the I-day. “There is up to 40 per cent dip in business compared to last year,” says proprietor, Rajesh. The price of cotton too has gone up slightly but that may not be holding back people who want to buy them, he feels.

His brother Ranganathan explains the reasonable prices on offer: a flag measuring one feet (height) by one-and-a-half feet (width) costs Rs 8; 2 feet by 3 feet: Rs 30 and 4 feet by 6 feet: Rs 120. The first two are the ones being bought.
 
His tailor, Jagdish, feels that visitors to the shop has thinned down considerably. “I feel that people do not want to be found in crowded areas due to fear of catching the virus. “Some come with mask make a quick purchase and push off,” he adds.

Babu of Ganesh Enterprises, a 20-year-old shop, is pretty upset that sales have just been half of the previous year. “I get bulk orders every year and have not received them this year,” he says. However, he feels the reason for the slump is a mystery to him.

Meanwhile, shops are doing their best to boost sales by opting for attractive illumination on flags sprawled across the entrance of the shops.  The child hawkers dotting most traffic points are also going all out to market I-Day merchandise, largely plastic flags for the big day.

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