KARACHI, Oct 22: Eid shopping in the city is yet to pick up momentum while shopkeepers in most of the popular shopping areas estimate a 40-50 per cent drop in their sales as compared to their normal sales a couple of weeks before the previous Eidul Fitr.

The shopkeepers attribute the trend to the grief and shock Karachiites are gripped in since October 8 when the massive earthquake hit northern parts of the country and Azad Kashmir.

Majority of customers is yet to make up the mind for Eid shopping while media continues to play heart-wrenching videos and publish pathetic pictures of human sufferings caused by the disaster.

Shopkeepers in popular shopping areas say that they have been experiencing a phenomenal drop of 40-50 per cent in their sales amid of very thin turnout of bargain hunters. However, there are a few market people in the trade who say that their sales have remained unaffected.

Although there is no yardstick or official data to ascertain the annual or monthly sales of retailers, the absence of usual hustle and bustle of most shopping areas indicates a visible decline in the activity due to the calamity.

Many shopkeepers said that the average customers were not opting for luxury items or extra shopping. This means that if a person usually purchases four shalwar kameez suits for a whole year, he is now buying only one or two.

At the beginning of the second half of the holy month of Ramazan, people usually throng the city’s shopping areas and markets. However, such a rush is not visible at most of such places as yet.

People have been facing no difficulty in finding a place for parking their vehicles close to the markets, even those located along main roads in busy commercial areas or behind the often jam packed shopping centres. It is also quite easy these days to pass through the narrow corridors of the markets. Contrary to this situation, customers had been facing immense hardship in finding a parking place for their vehicles or walking inside the shopping areas owing to tremendous hustle and bustle of shoppers.

Many shopkeepers have resorted to indulging in overcharging anticipating that the markets will continue to face the same situation in the next two weeks. They think it is right time to make windfalls from the fewer number of buyers in order to clear the huge unsold stocks which they had piled up before the earthquake.

Owner of shoe shop in Hyderi Market Shabbir Hussain said that the daily turnover of his shop, as well as that of the other shops in the market, showed a 40-50 per cent drop as compared to the sales during this period last year.

“After the earthquake, people are avoiding extra shopping. They are buying only the most essential items at the moment,” he said, adding, “I think the same situation may prevail for the next two months.”

Director the Al-Karam Textile Mills Rafeeq Ibrahim said that sales trend was slow this year as compared to last year due to the earthquake. He said people were now making fewer dresses at the moment and planning to make more after the Eid which meant that they were doing only necessary shopping.

However, he said, many families had planned marriages after Eid and they had to buy many items for the occasion. “I think the sales may pick up in the last days of Ramazan,” Rafiq said.

Director of the Iqbal Silk Mills Anwar Aziz has a different view. He said that sales of clothes had not been affected badly as of last year. Perhaps, the reason for the better situation despite the natural calamity is that arrival of smuggled and imported items had stopped and people are depending on local items.

“We were expecting sales to pick up by 30-35 per cent but it has not picked up yet. The sales have been affected by 10-15 per cent.

A senior executive of The Gap departmental store, who asked not to be named, said that the sales had been same as they were last year in their three leading stores.

“We have not decorated our stores this year and are not making any big advertisement campaign because of the calamity. This is the main difference,” he said.

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