Demonetisation fallout: Thin crowd, empty stalls mark Trade Fair’s Day
Though the first public day of the ongoing India International Trade Fair (IITF) fell on a Saturday, exhibitors were disappointed with the low footfall caused by demonetisaiton. In the previous years, the entire area used to be crowded due to a huge number of visitors on weekends pushing the management to close the entry gates but this year, even the barricaded entries at the gates are vacant.
“The sale is less. Around half of what we saw previous year on a Saturday. We were expecting some good business on the weekend as the fee for tickets were also reduced besides children below 12 years being exempted from tickets,” said the manager of a food court in Pragati Maidan.
“See the counters, they all are vacant. Last year, there were queues at every counter,” he added pointing towards his stalls. It’s not only the food items but sale is hit badly in the entire trade fair for products ranging from handicrafts to cosmetics and from clothes to electronic items. Out of the small crowd which visited the trade fair, a good number of them brought food from home and were seen eating in the parks. “We don’t know what will be the next move of the government. So its better so save whatever we have,” said Manshi, a woman who had come from East Delhi.
The street vendors and road-side kiosks are also facing the brunt of the slowdown in the mart. “I am afraid whether I will be able to recover the cost of running a stall here. I have the facility to swipe cards but there is hardly any customer,” said a trader of handicraft items.
“I came with 15 staff members to sell the carpets. Last year, by this time, I had sold around 60-70 carpets. This year, I am struggling to pay my staff and have just sold 25 carpets,” said Mobin Ahmed, a carpet merchant from Bhadohi district of Uttar Pradesh famous for carpets. The traders waited for customers and were also seen politely refusing them who intended to pay in old Rs 500 or 1,000 notes while some food stalls were accepting the old notes too.
“I have seen a 70 per cent decline in my business till now. I am afraid that after denomination, my future tours will be hampered. Some people want to buy in old currency which we are not accepting. We are just passing time,” said Tariq, a shawl trader from Kashmir.
“You would not have been able to stand and talk to me like this last year. I have been selling this chola kulcha for around 15 years outside the gates. This year it’s only 25 per cent in comparison to the crowd last year despite today being a Saturday,” said, a chola kulcha seller outside gate number 4, Pragati Maidan.