KARACHI: Traders in various parts of the country offered on Friday mixed views about the sales of Eid-related items.
Some traders said sales are slightly better than last year’s while others claimed a fall in revenues due to many reasons.
They said various retail outlets are offering bigger discounts this year, which shows they have to lure customers by offering price cuts.
Upcountry traders gave contradictory feedback on Eid sales. Anjuman Tajiran Pakistan General Secretary Razak Babbar said overall sales in major cities, like Multan, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad, have surged seven to eight per cent due to improved law and order.
He said an increase in the salaries of government employees and those of some private organisations has also contributed towards improved sales. “I think that people’s purchasing power has marginally risen,” he added.
In contrast, the chairman of Anjuman Tajiran Southern Punjab, Khawaja Suleman Siddiqui, said sales of Eid items have declined 10-20pc year-on-year in cities like Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sadiqabad and Bahalwalpur due to shrinking buying power and rising utility bills and other expenses.
He said a majority of people is affected by the rising cost of living. Those who would make two to three dresses for Eid are now content with making just one, he added.
The central president of Anjuman Tajiran Rawalpindi claimed that sales of Eid items have fallen 50pc this year, which is “the worst in my 54 years of experience” in trade.
“The country’s political and economic situation and rising prices of essential and even Eid items are the main reasons for a sharp fall in sales,” he said.
The general secretary of Anjuman Tajiran City Faisalabad, Chaudhry Mehmood Alam, said sales are down by just 10pc compared to last year. However, two markets – Anarkali and Jhangbaz – are attracting a good number of shoppers, he noted.
He said Faisalabad, known as Manchester of Pakistan, is a city of the labour class as only a handful of ultra-rich people live there.
Due to a crisis in the power loom sector and falling exports of textiles, many Eid items are beyond the reach of the labour class, he said.
The situation in Karachi is quite different, however. All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir said three markets – Tariq Road, Hyderi and Zainab Makret and its adjacent areas like Rex Centre and Madina Shopping Mall – are doing a roaring business, although sales in other markets of the city vary to a large extent.
He said the buyers’ rush is visible in only Jama Cloth where ladies’ items are sold. In addition, only three markets around the Teen Talwar area in Clifton are witnessing a high number of shoppers, he said.
Only 20 of the 40 markets in Saddar are registering a good number of buyers, he said, adding that sales in the Motan Das market are also depressed.
Mr Mir said poverty has risen in the country, adding that investors are reluctant to invest due to uncertain political conditions. Besides, the withholding tax on bank transactions has forced traders to deal in cash, causing further problems.
He claimed that about five million people in Karachi are living below the poverty line. They are unable to enjoy Eid shopping due to a cash crunch, he said.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2017