Low demand of mehndi services during Karva Chauth adds to the losses of local parlours amidst the pandemic in Sonepat, Haryana.
Sonepat: Micro to small-scale beauty parlours in Sonepat have incurred additional losses this festive season. Lack of customers during the days of Dussehra, Karva Chauth, and Diwali has worsened the situation for these local self-employed beauticians.
“It has been 11 years since I started work in my own home-based parlour, but this year has been the worst in terms of financial losses,” says Babita, the owner of Babita Beauty Parlour, Sonepat. “In the last six months, I have made 50 percent of what I used to make on a daily basis before COVID-19. It’s cut down from Rs. 500 per day to Rs. 250 per day.”
These parlours are located at the owner’s home and heavily rely on sales that certain occasions like Karva Chauth bring. An absence of demand in their mehndi (henna) services has worsened their state of continuous loss.
“I had no customers for painting mehndi on this Karva Chauth”, adds Babita. “My income now became 10 percent of what it was last year.”
With only one customer in her parlour during the evening peak timings of the festive season, Babita emphasised that the loss in her business has made it hard for her to pay-off her debt. She had taken a loan of Rs. 50,000 to buy bangles, bindis, and cosmetics specifically for Karwa Chauth. But the losses have only added to her burden.
“There is no money,” says Babita. “My parlour was completely empty when the lockdown started. Even now, there are hardly any customers. I told my husband I will do what I can.”
Beauty parlours often sell cosmetics in retail. But no service tax is payable on mere sale of cosmetics or any other material, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, clarifies.
For Appearance Parlour, Sonepat, there was no income at all during the days of Karwa Chauth. “We used to hire experts for applying mehndi on customers during the days of Karwa Chauth. But since there have been no customers, there were no extra arrangements made,” says Sanjeev Chauhan, the owner of Appearance Parlour. “We almost had 100 percent losses during this festive season, as compared to last year.”
“There are many local parlours in this town that are way too comfortable, friendly and relatively low-priced when compared to branded salons,” says Natasha, who has been a regular customer of both Babita and Sanjeev for the past 10 years. “They do not have many hired workers, but neither do they charge much.”
Natasha said that she did not visit these parlours during Karva Chauth, instead, she tried different mehndi styles at home. “I ended up putting a small dot of mehndi on my hand,” said the customer. “Every year the ladies of the locality found comfort in gathering together and having mehndi applied to our hands. But the fear of coronavirus still has not left me; my husband told me to not take the risk,” she added.
Small scale service providers are given exemption from taxable services if their value is not more than Rs. 10 lakh in any financial year.
For professional salons in Sonepat, it has not been easy either. “We suffered around 40 percent to 50 percent loss in our business during lockdown,” says the owner of Kiwi Salon, Sonepat. “We had to lay-off our staff when we shut down both branches of our salon — in Model Town and Sector-14 — in April 2020.” The owner adds, “Although we re-opened it in July 2020, it has been harder during the festive season. We could not make any money during Karva Chauth.”
“There are many government portals where micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) can apply for monetary support, but that’s only for those who are registered under it. Many home-based local businesses like parlours in Sonepat can’t really receive those benefits if there’s limited awareness or accessibility for registration,” says Dr. Anil Khurana, Professor of Management Studies at Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University of Science & Technology, Murthal.