KARACHI: The markets are open for Eid shopping but they are being thronged by three kinds of Eid shoppers this year. Dawn had the fortune (or misfortune) to run into all kinds at various shopping centres, malls and shops here.
The first kind arrived at a big brand clothing store to check out the new arrivals for Eid there to then just walk off in a huff with the complaint that the designs were far too simple, not befitting an Eid collection.
The second kind was happy buying simple lawn suits after much bargaining because they wanted to at least have something new to wear for Eid. They also lingered around the inexpensive things such as children’s clothing on roadside hanging racks, bangles, artificial jewellery, henna, cheap footwear, etc. Most of them were out only to buy new clothing and accessories for their children.
And the third kind only came out of homes to browse and do window shopping. They also came to enjoy the joyous occasion with bright lights and happy faces just to lift or elate their own sagging mood. During it all some also indulged a little on a little snack from the roadside vendors.
Many shoppers hold back on own wish list to make happiness of their children a priority
That is how the markets fill up these days from Iftar till Sehri.
“The peak time, when you see more rush, is around 10pm and by 11.30pm it all starts to fizzle. But still the markets remain open because we are also here looking for good business,” said an artificial jewellery shop owner in Gulf Shopping Centre near Teen Talwar in Clifton.
The otherwise tight lanes in the market looked broader than usual. The shop owner looked slightly sad as he remembered the previous years when they only got genuine buyers by the hundreds and thousands around this time. “I don’t think those days are ever going to return,” he said.
The guy minding one of the counters at a big brand store in a busy big mall in Clifton was not sure what we meant by asking him if the rising inflation in the country was having any adverse affect on his store’s sales. “Our Eid collection is doing very well. People are happily buying two-piece and three-piece suits that cost from Rs13,000 to Rs25,000,” he said.
“Anything less than that is not considered Eid collection by them,” he said before pointing to a few racks and hangers full of some very pretty casual designs. “Several of our regular customers came in during the first part of Ramazan only to reject these because they cost in the vicinity of Rs4,000 to Rs8,000. They said they were too simple for Eid,” he said.
“Then when the expensive collection hit the shops, they looked happier and quickly bought quite a few dresses,” he added.
Another salesman at a different boutique, though equally posh if not more, said that bargaining is unheard of in their shops. “No one complains about clothes being too expensive here. They buy whatever they like but we pride ourselves in our after sales service. We exchange or alter if the need for it arises,” he said. “So several customers do the rounds here two to three times before they are satisfied with their exchanges or altered fitting,” he said.
At Zainab Market in Saddar, one ran into parents mostly looking for children’s clothes. “We are more focused on buying Eid clothing for our children first because we don’t want them to feel our depression of finding it difficult to make ends meet,” said a couple.
Mohammed Noman, a shoe store owner, at the market across Zainab Market, said that he noticed that parents were no longer coming with their children to buy shoes for them. “They have a very good idea of their shoe sizes so they come and select footwear for their children themselves,” he said.
There was one such parent right there at his store at that time and she added: “Look, if I only have a fixed amount to spend on shoes for my kids I will go do the shopping myself rather than bring them along and be subjected to their selections. What if they like something too expensive? What if they want more than one pair?”
Of course, all parents were not that far-sighted. One mother was hurriedly walking out of the market with her five- or six-year-old daughter being dragged out by hand by her. The child was almost in tears, asking her mother why she didn’t buy her a dress that she liked and the mother told her that it was old-fashioned and of poor quality. One’s eyes followed the dress being pointed at by the child. It looked quite nice actually. Then one noticed its price tag as a whistle escaped from one’s lips.
Meanwhile, at the Jama Cloth Market, off M.A. Jinnah Road, the shoppers were being very selective. The salesmen also looked stressed.
Rahim Ahmed, selling stitched cotton and linen suits from a hanging rack by the roadside, said that the rising costs in everything has impacted his business. “Where people used to buy three or four suits from me they only buy one or two and that, too, after much bargaining. We already sell at wholesale rates here and there is a limit to how low I can go because I have also bought these suits from somewhere. I can’t sell them at a loss,” he reasoned, adding that his most expensive suits were priced at Rs1,300 and people were not even willing to pay that much.
Two customers were browsing around the shops. They were mother and daughter of whom the latter was looking at the stitched suits with interest, asking the price of each. “I am looking for something for her to wear on Eid. Hope we can get something within our budget,” said the mother.
When asked what their budget was, she said it was zero until three days ago. “I worried I won’t be able to buy my daughter anything this Eid until her aunt presented her with some advance Eidi, asking her to buy anything she would like for herself for Eid,” the mother shared.
“Where customers used to buy three bags from me to match their Eid dresses, they are only buying one which would go with all their clothes,” said Syed Mohammed Ikram, a salesman at a purses and bags store there.
He said that he is lately also encountering many thieves and pickpockets in the market. “Usually, they are stealing from the shoppers but they have also stolen some of my purses that I had hung at the shop’s entrance for display. They were empty purses. I can only blame things getting out of the reach of the common man for this,” he said.
Another shop owner of unstitched material for ladies suits summed up the matter of inflation with these lines: “Before last Eid, I used to see one female customer coming to my shop and leaving with at least three unstitched suits. Now, I see three females coming here to decide on just one suit. That suit, too, they buy after much discussion among themselves and a lot of bargaining.”
Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2023