Eid sales plummet as street crimes rise

In Business
April 14, 2024



KARACHI:

While lamenting poor commercial activities, leading traders of Karachi have expressed concerns about lacklustre sales throughout the Eid season. Seventy percent of Eid items, including suits, dresses, shoes, and others, could not be sold due to runaway inflation, shrinking income, falling purchasing power, rising unemployment, and frustrating street crimes in the city.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) Chairman Atiq Mir said shopkeepers and traders complained that 70% of their articles are still lying in shops or godowns. Over 50% of people focused on grains, groceries, fruits, and other necessary edible items during Ramazan till Eid, and they could not afford Eid shopping.

“Karachi has a population of approximately 40 million, while 20 million live below the poverty line and do not participate in social events like Eid, etc. Another 15 million Karachiites avoided going shopping, while around 5 million people used to go out and shop in a controlled way. If I recall the Eid season of 2015, I remember that Karachiites bought items worth around Rs70 billion, and right now only Rs18 billion were spent on Eid shopping spree. Sales have continuously fallen since 2015,” he said.

Speaking about rising street crimes throughout the port city, he said street crimes rose to a record high where there are three kinds of street criminals: first, those who are recently rendered unemployed because of the closure of factories in Karachi following the costs of doing business; secondly, those who are hardened criminals; and thirdly, those who are patronised by political parties and the police. He said a barrage of beggars keeps agonising and perturbing commuters, locals, and traders on each and every square of main roads and in markets, but police also failed to curb the skyrocketing beggary.

Sharing first-hand information, other traders said although a large number of shoppers thronged markets including Teen Talwar, Du Talwar, Nazimabad, Haideri, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Shah Faisal Colony, and others, yet they could not purchase Eid items as the rising costs of suits, dresses, shoes went out of their ranges. Women who kept visiting markets were unable to buy a simple dress worth Rs2,000 this season, while generally dresses worth Rs2,500 to Rs3,500 were sold last year. People purchased one Shalwar Kamiz suit for their respective children instead of two or three suits as usual on Eid, they said. They said basic kitchen items and inflated utility bills vitiated the budget of buyers. Those who earn Rs50,000-Rs60,000 a month are not satisfied and unable to afford even a small and ideal family including a couple with two children.

Conversely, Alliance of Arambagh Markets Association Chairman Asif Gulfam gave some optimistic views and said around 35% sales slid during the season in markets and bazaars because customers have also been divided into two categories. First, those who go to supermarkets and shop online, and secondly, the rest of the customers visit traditional markets and bazaars. He said law enforcement agencies controlled crimes in Saddar areas where people were seen shopping for Eid, and many traders seemed satisfied with sales.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2024.

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