High prices keep shoppers away from Ugadi markets

High prices keep shoppers away from Ugadi markets

Elections, exams and increased prices deter Ugadi shoppers

Two days prior to Ugadi, shops on DVG Road are closed and the street sees no activity at 4 pm.

With Ugadi just around the corner, city markets should have been bustling with festive revellers and last-minute shoppers. Anticipating this, Metrolife headed to the busy streets of Chikpete, Gandhi Bazaar and Malleswaram but we were surprised to find
that the sales have dropped this year.

When asked the reason, the vendors attributed it to anything from price rise due to lesser rainfall to elections and exam season. Here is what we found...

Unfinished constructions deter Chikpete customers
Chikpete, known for saris and traditional ‘puja’ items, was almost empty when we visited. A shopkeeper, who did not want to be named, said that BBMP’s drive to clear unauthorised shops from KR Market had inconvenienced the customers, thus reducing their inflow. The drive has been going on for a week now.

We ourselves spotted another construction work in Chikpete that has been reportedly going on for more than three months now. Shopkeepers say that multiple deadlines have passed.

“They should have tended to this earlier or they should have let the festival pass by. Ugadi is the time we get maximum business. The sale has gone down by almost 50 per cent, as compared to the previous years, because of all these obstructions,” says a 60-year-old vendor. His estimates on the business lost were echoed by Devi Singh from Ayushi Creation, a wholesale clothing dealer on Char Street in Chikpete.

Some have mixed reactions
Some vendors at Chikpete complain about declining sales while others, like a person at Sri Laksmi Narayana Metal Mart, credit
the Metro with bringing more customers to their doorstep.

Costly flowers find no takers in Gandhi Bazaar
Lakshmamma, 60, who sells flowers in Gandhi Bazaar told us that she had never seen the place this deserted in the past 50 years. Lakshmamma took over the trade from her mother, who used to sit at the same spot.

She says that the prices of flowers like ‘Shavantige’ and ‘Kanakambara’ have increased as a result of lack of rainfall, further deterring prospective buyers. The views were echoed by another flower vendor Shantamma.

Elections, exams pose a double whammy
Many people blame the reduced sales on GST and elections while others add that the exam fees parents have to bear during this time reduces their spending capacity.Prakash, manager of Shree Sai Sarees Palace on DVG Road, says that this was the first time in his service of 10 years that he was seeing the streets of Gandhi Bazaar so empty.

“Ugadi is usually celebrated in March, before elections and exams. This year, the timing is a little bad. The same thing happened three years ago and we experienced the same situation back then,” he says, adding that sales have gone down by 50 percent this year.

Consistent decline over the years
Srinivas from Sri Mahalakshmi Hall in Venkatadri Arcade, Gandhi Bazaar, says that business has been going down from past five years. He and his brothers run a shop that has been in business for 83 years now. He adds that sales are better during normal days as compared to festive times. 

“The only exception to this is the Varamahalakshmi festival; sari sales peak then as people buy these to offer to various goddesses. Now, since they have to buy to for themselves, they hesitate to invest. It is no longer like the olden times,” he notes. Some other vendors pointed to the rise in online shopping as the reason for a consistent decline of customers at brick-and-mortar shops.

Empty shops in Malleswaram
Ramalata, 50, who was out shopping for Ugadi, says, “I think this is the first time that Malleswaram is empty. There is no enthusiasm at all.”

Panchanga sales drop too
Ugadi brings with it the practice of reading the ‘Panchanga’ (an almanac that contains astronomical/ astrological details mainly related to Thithi, vaara, Nakshatra, Yoga and Karna). However, owners of ‘grandige’ stores on DVG Road like Satish Stores and Ashwini Stores say that ‘Panchanga’ sales have also gone down this year. Apart from ‘Panchangas’, saris, flowers and ‘Bevu-Bella’ are typically the most in-demand items during Ugadi.