Small-scale designer boutiques have been affected by Covid-19 in Jaipur. Run mostly by women entrepreneurs, they are finding it difficult to get back on their feet post lockdown.
Jaipur: Boutiques in Jaipur have seen a fall in sales of customized and designer clothing because of a reduction in social events due to the pandemic. Women entrepreneurs are receiving fewer or no customers, and as a result, they are finding it difficult to cope with the loss in their business.
Due to fewer weddings this year, the sales of customized garments have also dropped. Pooja Verma, owner of Ruchika Designer Boutique, said that people are fixing appointments and calling them beforehand to avoid the crowd. She added that she has to handle all the work, including the finishing of clothes at her boutique as there are only a few workers in her store.
Data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, for February 2020, shows that the overall unemployment rate was seven percent, with six percent for men and 18 percent for women. However, during the lockdown, the unemployment rate reached 23 percent from March 2020 to April 2020, within which the share of unemployed women was significantly high. It has now shown signs of recovery, with June 2020 recording lower unemployment rates (at about 11 percent.But, yet again, unemployment among women is likely to be much higher, as mentioned in the CII report.
Mahak Sharma, owner of Mani Jaipur Boutiques,said, “Our boutique is still closed. We open it only for specific orders. Our tailors were allowed to take up temporary jobs during the lockdown, while the boutique was shut.”
Sonia Agarwal, owner of Shubhangi Boutique, said due to the pandemic, her business has been the lowest for the first time in 25 years.They received a few urgent orders and had to use available materials from their old stock. She also said that they have been following social distancing norms and using sanitizers while working in the boutique.
However, those having an online clothing business did see stability in the sale of customized clothes. Neha Shrivastav, a fashion designer and an entrepreneur, said, “Domestic sales have decreased to a large extent. Our business focuses more on international orders. Due to the pandemic, they too have dwindled. The transportation system for delivering international orders has also paused. However, online sales are still stable, and we have been delivering our goods through Flipkart, Amazon, and Meesho websites.”
Women organizations for empowerment and employment are also in the same boat due to the pandemic. Hunar Women Organization is set up for skill development in embroidery, tailoring, and entrepreneurship for the women of Jaipur. Komal Shrivastava, the founder of Hunar Women said,“We are continuing the making of the products with great difficulty.Fortunately, we were supported by donations that helped in providing the women with rations. The husbands of these women are also unemployed, so it was important to look after their source of income. It’s a tough time for the women working here.” Komal suggested that the Government should revamp the policies and help the small-scale businesses and artisans. They should provide necessary loans, grants, and ration to the people.
Some boutique owners did pay their staff members during the lockdown. Meena, owner of Shikhar Boutique, said that she had paid the tailors working at her boutique even during the lockdown. Due to the increasing COVID-19 cases, fewer customers were coming in even after reopening. The orders for customized clothing for weddings have also diminished. Sapna Chauhan, a customer of Shubhangi Boutique said, “I am getting clothes stitched, only because the festive season is around. Otherwise, my daily clothing orders have decreased due to the pandemic. My usual orders are normally higher than what I have been getting stitched currently.”