Jam-packed last year, Diwali markets wear a deserted look

New Delhi: On the eve of Diwali last year, Old Delhi markets such as Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid, Dariba Kalan and Chawri Bazar, had people jostling for space. This year, people drove their sedans and SUVs comfortably in the same areas. While cracker markets were shut, shopkeepers in other areas of Delhi, too, said their Diwali sales saw a drop of 30-40%.
In Old Delhi’s Meena Bazar, Imran khan, president of the traders’ association, said, “This market had a stampede-like situation for the entire week preceding Diwali. We could close our shops only around 12 in the night. Tomorrow is Diwali and you can see how deserted the roads are.” Most traders said business was already down after GST and following the cracker ban, demand for other items associated with the festival had also plummeted.
Divyansh Khanna, a trader at Sadar Bazar, which is Delhi’s largest wholesale market, said, “I sell fancy lights but my business was complemented by the sale of crackers as people who came to buy it often ended up purchasing this too. Last year, I earned more than Rs 10,000 on the day before Diwali but this year I have not even been able to sell goods worth Rs 4,000.”
Kailash Khandelwal, president of Sadar Bazar gold association, said, “On the day of dhanteras, it might have looked that there are a lot of people in the shop but the purchasing power has dried down. The sales were at least 35% less than what it was last year because the taxes have increased from 1% to 3% on gold.”
Pankaj Sandhu, secretary, Lajpat Nagar Central Market association who is also into eateries and gold business, said, “This is the most dull Diwali I have seen in years. If I had 1,000 customers last year, the number would have decreased to 600 this year.” President of Sarojini Nagar mini market association Ashok Randhawa said, “This market is known for Diwali shopping. Yesterday, we had some people but today it is worse than a normal day.”

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