Stall and shop owners in local markets said that they lost business by almost 80 per cent, and were forced to reduce their profit margin.
Bengaluru: Shopping in local markets isn’t the same. With the fear of Covid-19 and government restrictions, the plight of shop and stall owners in local markets in Bengaluru have increased. Several shop owners said surviving in the market is not easy for them and they had to reduce their profit margin by 20 per cent or more. The profit cut added to their existing losses.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued guidelines that people should maintain six feet distance in markets and other public places.
Shop and stall owners said that the main markets affected were fashion jewellery, clothing, cosmetics, and leather accessories.
The fashion jewellery stalls and shops in local markets are a boon to people who can’t afford expensive jewellery items. However, the sellers said they are struggling to recover from the losses they incurred due to the nationwide lockdown.
Ashraf Ali, the owner of 313 Fancy Jewellery Collection in Shivajinagar, incurred a loss of 80 percent in the sales. “We didn’t have customers, so we decided to reduce out profit margin to only five to10 per cent from 30 to 35 percent to increase our sales.”
However, this profit cut did not help Ali much. Rather, it has made it difficult for him to recover the existing losses. “But we can’t increase prices as we might not survive in the market,” he added.
“Some oxidized earrings which were sold for Rs. 150 earlier are now sold for Rs. 100,” Ali added. Despite reducing prices, people still bargain, adding to Ali’s problems. “We need to clear our stock and get new stock, as fashion preferences change overtime. But, we don’t have funds to buy more new items,” he said. “We just hope the government takes some initiative for us,” he added.
Fewer customers and lesser profits prompted Ali to start selling cosmetic products in his jewellery store.
Lipsticks, nail paints, and eye make-up accessories are also an important component of sales in these local markets. But this pandemic has affected the cosmetic shop and stall owners. Abres Basha, a cosmetic stall owner in Jayanagar, said that they reduced the price of make-up products by Rs. 50 or more. “Other stalls and shops are providing discounts to customers. Hence, we had to reduce our prices so we won’t be wiped out of the market,” he said.
“It is difficult to survive with reduced profit margins but we hope that things will get better soon,”added Basha.
These local markets have a variety of clothing accessories like t-shirts, lehengas, and sarees. Imran Basha, a clothes stall owner in Jayanagar, is now selling t-shirts that hee sold for Rs. 180 earlier at Rs. 120. “We have owned this stall for years and had never seen such a downfall. Also, our stall is small and situated in a corner which led to lesser sales as other big shops have banners of discount or sale and we can’t afford it,” he said.
In order to survive in the market, Naveen Collections in Shivajinagar, has reduced the price of all garments. Arbaaz Khan, an employee of Naveen Collections, said, “We just manage to get 10 to 15 per cent of sales now compared to what we used to get earlier. Due to lesser sales and decreased profit margins it was difficult for our owner to pay the staff. So I am the only employee left here and others were fired.”
Wallets, shoes and belts are the accessories that you will find at every other stall in local markets of Bengaluru. These shop and stall owners had to adapt to lower sales in the market and sell their products at lower prices.
Rouf K, a wallet and shoes stall owner in Shivajinagar, said that they had to sell the products at a sale with less than 5 per cent profit margin as their stock was getting old. They also started selling masks as they were in demand to make up for the losses they suffered..
B.M Kumaraswamy, an economist in Bangalore said, “In third quarter of this financial year we saw the GDP go up by 0.4 per cent. It was the first time after the pandemic. The government is providing credit facilities to consumers so that they can purchase more products, so I advise people engaged in these businesses not to lose faith in the economy.” He suggested shops to sell products at the minimum cost just to cover their expenses till next year’s second or third quarter and then try covering their losses as by then the economy would get stabilized.
However, some stalls owner said that they were selling products at the usual price even if it affected their sales. Abdul Qayum, a jewellery stall owner in Jayanagar said, “Due to rising fuel prices the cost of transportation has increased, hence we are selling products at the usual price.”