RAWALPINDI: Disgruntled over sitting at homes for over a month amid the lockdown, many shopkeepers in Rawalpindi have set up makeshift stalls as a stopgap measure.
Several businesspersons in different markets in the city have resorted to setting up stalls on pushcarts outside their closed shops to draw the attention of the customers.
Such sights came to the fore when The Express Tribune conducted a market survey to examine the lockdown situation on Sunday. The business of street vendors was largely operational in almost every market of the garrison city, including Raja Bazaar, Bara Bazaar, Iqbal Road, Ganjmandi Road, City Saddar Road, Jamia Masjid Raod, and Saidpur Road.
A customer can get everything ranging from garments, cosmetic items, crockery, electronic items, hardware equipment from these stalls. The retailers have pivoted towards this mode of business as a substitute since they complain of finding it hard to make ends meet with the closure of markets over a month now. Most of these vendors have put several items on sale to cover up for the loss they suffered amid the lockdown. Some of these stallholders, including Nadeem Sheikh, Muhammad Javed and Shaiq Abbasi, who owned shops in Moti and Bara bazaars spoke to The Express Tribune. Justifying this way of trade despite not being exempted, they said that they were earning money legitimately as it has become impossible for them to sit at homes and miss Ramazan season. “If an item is not available on the pushcart, we take it out from the back door or half-closed shutters and sell it to the customers,” the vendor added.
Many of these vendors have resumed their businesses in the manner since the lockdown was relaxed.
All these stalls remained encircled by the customers throughout the day as people say that they need to buy various things before Eidul Fitr.
The customers were also happy with businesses operating in this ‘concealed’ manner as they just have to turn to markets to purchase things they need.
The police and security forces deployed in the markets have also given free hand to all such make-shift stallholders. When asked, Amjad Khan, a stallholder, claimed that all of them were running their businesses under the supervision of the police.
Moreover, the customers who had come to the markets for shopping said that apart from groceries, there was wide range of variety of items they needed. They were happy and satisfied with getting them despite the lockdown.
Meanwhile, taxis, rickshaws and other ride-hailing services have also started operating in the garrison city without official permission.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2020.