It is no sweet affair for vendors, shoppers

It’s been dull shopping at the City’s markets ahead of Monday’s Sankranti festival this year. Gandhi Bazaar, one of the favourite hubs for many Bangaloreans to buy festive items, was not its usual self on Sunday, as only a few people were shopping for the festival goodies.

The slump has been attributed to the increase in the prices of sugarcane, sweet potato, ellu-bella and other items.

Vendors said that they were forced to sell the items at high prices due to the crop failure caused by scanty rainfall. Gangamma, who sells avarekai (Indian beans) at Gandhi Bazaar, said this year she had fewer customers than last. She recalled how people thronged to buy avarekai last year.

“Only 35 to 40 people have come to my shop in the past two days. We are selling soaked (raw) avarekai at Rs 70 per kg, compared to Rs 40 last year.”  

The prices of sugarcane have increased by 20 to 25 per cent this year. In Malleswaram and Gandhi Bazaar areas, a pair of sugarcane stalks is being sold at Rs 80 to Rs 100. An yard of stringed flowers that costs Rs 15 is being sold at Rs 25 at several markets.

The price of a bag of ellu-bella (sesame-jaggery mix distributed during Sankranti) has gone up by around 40 per cent this season. A kg of ellu-bella costs between Rs 200 and Rs 220. Shantala, a housewife from Padmanabhanagar, was shocked to learn about the high prices at the Malleswaram market.

She said: “The middle-class and the poorer sections of society are affected the most due to inflation. We have to think twice and negotiate a lot, before buying any item. I have decided to distribute readymade ellu-bella only to a few houses as I cannot buy in large quantities, given the high prices.”

The festival season also saw a rise in prices of sweet potatoes. One kg of sweet potatoes is priced around Rs 40, which is more than the usual price. Similarly, the prices of fruits such as apples, pomegranates and mosambis have gone up and have become least affordable. A few vendors in K R Market, after witnessing a dip in sales, were seen selling a pair of sugarcane stalks at Rs 60. Jyothi K, a sugarcane vendor, said: “In the morning, we were selling sugarcane stalks at Rs 75 per pair. Later, we reduced the price to Rs 60 to attract more people.” Sankranti has thus proved to be a costly affair for both the buyers and sellers.

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