Will shopping at Pune’s Laxmi Road ever be the same again?

Prajakta Joshi
Friday, 22 May 2020

The garment shop owners of Laxmi Road are all set to welcome the customers after a gap of two months. However, they are mentally prepared that they won’t see the same footfall they are used to, for at least a few more months, probably the whole year.

Pune: The usual hustle-bustle on the Laxmi Road was missing, yet the shopkeepers with a smile, oops, masks on their faces and big bottles of hand sanitisers were at the doors to welcome you. Though it was your traditional shopkeeper and you are a loyal customer, the entire shopping experience has changed 360 degrees.

The garment shop owners of Laxmi Road are all set to welcome the customers after a gap of two months. However, they are mentally prepared that they won’t see the same footfall they are used to, for at least a few more months, probably the whole year.

The shops at Laxmi Road, Pune’s traditional shopping hub, have been allowed to be kept open on a few days of the week as the lockdown 4.0 began. However, the number of people who would go and buy something as of now is questionable.

“We have mentally prepared ourselves that this year is only about survival. We are expecting the sales to actually start gaining some pace by Diwali, but the year is lost,” said Bharat Lalwani, owner of Bhagya Creations on Kumthekar Road.

DEMAND FOR KIDS’ CLOTHES

Hitesh Shah, owner of Maitrik, a shop selling children’s clothes said that they were getting inquiries for sale even before the shops reopened.

“Those with newborns need clothes for their babies much more often, as kids grow out of their clothes quite fast. So we have already started getting customers from day 1 itself, and even though it is difficult, I think this will help us sail through these times,” Shah said.

NO WEDDING SEASON

With the wedding season spent in lockdown and several weddings pushed to the year end, those selling wedding garments have faced a huge setback this year.

“We have opened the shop, but we don’t know what is going to happen. Everything is uncertain, and the only option is to wait and watch now,” Manoj Jain, owner of Kajree saree shop on Laxmi Road said.

Avinash Manudhane, owner of Anmol Matchings said that a huge deal of their sale comes from the wedding ‘basta’ a traditional assortment of wedding clothes. However, with the wedding season pushed to December, the major sale was lost.

STAFF CRUNCH

With reverse migration due to the lockdown, a large number of people working at these garment shops have returned to their hometowns. “I have hardly 10 per cent of my staff available here, as most of them have left the city. Right from cleaning to stacking to sales, it’s all on those who are here now,” Lalwani said.

Manudhane said that he has opened his shop with the help of his family members for now. “Some of my staffers are in the city, but I haven’t asked them to come yet. I will probably call them as people start coming to the shop,” he added.

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