KARACHI: Despite extraordinary rush of buyers with no fear of coronavirus infection and people not following the standard operating procedures during the limited time of shopping ahead of Eid, shopkeepers and market traders look disappointed saying that they are likely to grossly miss the sales target set for this year.
Though relieved over the Supreme Court’s decision to open malls and shopping centres, the traders are aware that customers’ buying power has been severely curtailed.
They believe that sales will remain highly depressed even if markets are allowed to operate till midnight as Eid is hardly a couple of days away.
President of the Hyderi Market Association Syed Mohammad Saeed said: “We will achieve 40 per cent sales target as buyers’ arrival in the market has slowed down due to intense heatwave from May 18 and opening of malls and shopping centres.”
‘Sales target is 25pc due to people’s squeezed buying power, rising prices of essentials, unemployment and pay cuts’
He claimed that shopkeepers had not purchased bulk of goods during Rajab/Sha’aban and only those items were on sale which had been procured a few days ahead of the lockdown.
Factories involved in making readymade garments also run out of stocks due to limited purchasing of raw materials and clothes.
Problems for new online businesses
Mr Saeed said online businesses had not brought any big business benefit for new shopkeepers while on the other hand the well-organized producers of branded garments did not feel the pinch of low sale through online sales.
General secretary of the All City Tajir Ittehad Ahmed Shamsi said: “Shopkeepers will not be able to meet sales target of 25 per cent even after opening their outlets till midnight.”
He said online sales by new players were hardly 10pc of their actual on-spot sales and “people lack trust on new people as compared to already well-organised market brands.”
He said joblessness among daily-wage earners and contractual workers during lockdown had taken away a number of buyers from the markets as these people were now more worried about running their daily affairs rather than preparing for Eid.
Besides, people are also facing transport problems like non-plying of public transport and suspension of ride-hailing services, which used to play a big role in bringing people towards markets, he added.
Low sales estimate
Chairman of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, Atiq Mir estimates sales of Rs8 to Rs10 billion this year as compared to sale of Rs35bn last year.
He said 90pc of people were purchasing goods for their children rather than for themselves.
“The opening of markets late night will not do any wonder for traders as the number of buyers are same,” he said adding that many buyers, after losing jobs or facing pay cut, would miss Eid shopping.
Online sales of branded suit makers had gained business, but consumers face long delays of 12-15 days in getting their unstitched and readymade garments due to poor courier service facilities.
Director of Bonanza Satrangi Industries, Hanif Bilwani, commenting on sales target, said “it is impossible to cover the target after 50 days of lockdown. The markets are now open. Online sale in Karachi is faced with a lot of problems.”
He said online sales had surged by 15 times over the last year.
“We were getting Rs100,000 online order a day in Eid days last year. Now we are getting orders worth Rs1.5 million a day.” However, he said shipments were getting delayed due to management issues with courier companies in Karachi which also started online delivery service very late. As a result, consumers continued to face delays in getting their deliveries.
Chairman of Tariq Road Traders Alliance, Ilyas Memon said: “Markets are recording only 20-25 per cent sales due to limited time, while scorching heat has done rest of the damage to our sales.”
He added that new online stores of various products could secure only four to five per cent of business as many people were not aware of their brands and new stores did not have any experience of online trading.
He said consumers were mainly buying for their children.
President of the Bohri Bazaar Mochi Gali Traders Association Mansoor Jack said: “Only 25 per cent of our sales target will be achieved due to consumers’ squeezed buying power, rising prices of essential items, unemployment and pay cuts in salaries during lockdown.”
He said many traders had increased efforts for procuring Eid-related items during Rajab and Sha’aban and now they were worried over the piled up unsold inventory which would become obsolete in view of changing fashion trends.
A readymade garment shop owner at Gulf Shopping Mall at Clifton, Athar Sultan, said, “There are no sales targets when only four days are left for Eid. Target now is to stay alive under coronavirus threat and this is going to be our profit under current circumstances.”
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020