Bengaluru: Over the years, Christmas has become a commercial enterprise, with too much of emphasis on shopping and buying. The shops at Russell market, commercial streets are decked with the Christmas baubles, nativity sets, old Santas, toys, cribs and many stars hanging around. Many temporary stalls in the city have mushroomed to grab the seasonal business.
But talk to anyone behind the counter, the sparks of the fest start to fade away. The dreadful demonetisation has punched into Christmas joy too. Many of the shopkeepers express the drift of cashlessness; with no cash to spend, sales and business have dipped. The budding and sparkling business streets of Shivajinagar and commercial hub too are witnessing a sales dip.
“We walked the street looking for the crib sets and decorative stuffs but this year it’s more of a deserted look”, says a purchaser.
“I used to sell about 8 to 10 cribs a day, but now I can hardly sell two or three per day,” says a shopkeeper. Most of the shops import crib sets from Tamilnadu. The price varies according to the size. The costs of these vary according to the size starting from Rs 450 and Rs 1000 above.
Pavithra sells decorative lights, bulbs and stars in the commercial street. “Customers flip us with the old currencies making it difficult to exchange. Not all can buy things for Rs 2000 and above. We struggle hard to get the change. At times we accept the old notes too fearing loss in business”.
“The joyful business season has gone dim. We used to sell products like hot cakes. There are hardly any buyers but our situation is relatively good compared to other shops, as stars are important part of the feast”, says Allen.
Cribs that come from Mumbai and Kolkata and Tamilnadu cost about Rs 250 to Rs 4000 each.
At Commercial Street, some shops have set of goodies to take home. “Apart from this, there is no business from the past three days. People come, buy cost-effective products and spend on very little things due to the lack of money in ATMs or insufficient change”, says Sunil.
“Not all the traders can afford the online transactions; not all of us know to use or have time to learn. We don’t even have bank accounts. People like us have no idea to eke a living during regular days. These are the seasons we enjoy making some business but now, costumers hardly come to buy in bulk”, says Arun.
“Sales have dropped by about 40 percent compared to the previous year. Customers demand for Paytm POS machines with the government imposing sales tax, service tax and 14.5 percent. Customers argue and walk away without purchasing anything. So cashless transaction has become a headache for us” says Dasan, a shop owner.
“My children have started asking me to buy decorative items. I am running out of cash in hand and hence am planning to buy whatever can be fetched with the money that is available in smaller limits,’’ said a customer.
Maria from Frazer Town says,” We used to buy a lot of clothes and cribs. Now due to impacts of demonetisation, I have decided to buy just a star which is affordable or settle for leftovers of the previous year”.
The sales of colourful lights too have gone down. The prices range from Rs 80 to Rs 7000. People prefer to buy cheaper lights. When customers offer Rs 2000 for lesser buys it literally has me confused. I don’t want to lose the customer or stop selling since it’s a temporary business and we prefer to make the best out of it”, says Pavitra.