PUNE: Remember the days when the whole family would go shopping to the local market before Diwali to buy everything from lamps and electric lights to gifts and new clothes for the festival?
Times have changed. The family now sits together in their homes and shops online! That too at unbelievably discounted prices.
Several traders and small retailers in the city have complained that year after year, their business during Diwali season is being adversely affected as more and more people have started buying all they need online.
According to a statement by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), “The main reason for such a disappointing scenario is all due to highly surging sales in e-commerce market which is offering huge discounts and indulging in predatory pricing and adopting all unfair business practices which has greatly attracted customers.”
Pune-based businessman and member of CAIT Ajit Sethiya said, “The kind of immense discounts that the e-commerce platforms are offering are not right. While it is good for customers, they are creating a monopoly in the markets, and leading to losses for small-time traders. The discounts have really gone out of hand,” Sethiya said. When asked why she prefers shopping online to retail shops, IT professional Tanmayee Joglekar said, “Apart from discounts on e-commerce websites, another major reason why I avoid going to places like Laxmi Road and Camp these days is traffic and lack of parking space. It’s a headache to find a parking spot close to the shops. Moreover, getting in and out of the market area is a task because of the traffic jams. It’s better online, as I get the products I want delivered to my doorstep, that too at much lower prices.”
She said, “There are still people who go out to the market to shop, unlike us millennials. My parents, my uncles and aunts, still go to the marketplace to buy many things. But it’s true that the huge discounts are alluring them as well to the online platforms.”
However, that doesn’t justify the plight of the small-time retailers on Laxmi Road.
“It’s not our fault that there is traffic congestion on the roads here. We cannot offer discounts like the e-commerce platforms. But we have to face the brunt of it all. No matter how much discount you get online, can it be compared to the experience of going out to the store and buying things with your family and friends?” asked a staff member at a popular garment store on Laxmi Road.
As people prefer to stay off markets, not just the retailers but all businesses linked to them are affected.
“Retail and wholesale markets are amongst the largest employment generators in India. There are salespersons at shops, suppliers, transporters, labourers who help load and unload the stock, the tea sellers, small hawkers who run businesses outside our shops and so on. If less people come to the markets, the lives of all of these in the link would be affected,” Sethiya said.
LOWER SALES AT DIWALI
- While Laxmi Road and Tulshibaug have traditionally been the most popular shopping spots for Punekars, the number of visitors has decreased drastically in the last couple of years.
- Tulsi stores, a prominent store of kitchenware located near Tulshibaug market had the usual bustle of shoppers. However, store manager Dayanand said that compared to last year, he has noticed a slowdown in Diwali sales. “The business is definitely affected. Compared to last year, we are noticing that people are not spending much on Diwali shopping.”