As the month of Ramazan is approaching its end, preparations for Eidul Fitr have started gaining momentum in Haripur, with markets getting flooded with scores of people every passing day.
However, unlike previous years, a large number of people appear to be inclined towards buying cheap, low-quality items this time around due to the high prices charged by shopkeepers, The Express Tribune learnt while surveying city markets.
A large number of shoppers are swarming roadside stalls on the busy streets and link roads, which offer cheap but trendy items, including clothes, shoes and cosmetics.
These counterfeits attract buyers because the fresh designs and affordable prices have made them hotly demanded. These points, mostly established by Afghan refugees and small vendors from Punjab, sell Chinese-made replicas of name-brand shoes, readymade baby suites, hosiery and cosmetics.
“There is a big difference between the rates at these temporary stalls and large stores. They are a blessing for the lower class which cannot afford expensive clothes and shoes,” said Dildar Khan, a government servant.
“A pair of branded shoes generally costs around Rs1,800 to Rs2,200, but thanks to these stalls, one can buy shoes for Rs350 to Rs500,” he explained.
Shumaila Bibi, a local shopper, said that her husband earned Rs6,000 per month, due to which she could only yearn for high quality products. As a result, she was forced to opt for substandard items as she wanted her children to celebrate Eid in the same way their relatives do.
She explained that a pair of sandals, which costs between Rs500 and Rs800 in the market, could be bought for Rs350 to Rs450 at these stalls.
“I know that these items are not durable, but I don’t want my children to feel deprived on Eid,” she remarked.
Sher Gul, an Afghan national who sells Chinese-made footwear at a roadside kiosk, said there was only a marginal difference in the quality of shoes at his kiosk and the ones being sold in large shops. He said that stalls like his were a blessing for the poor, who could not afford to buy expensive products.
Nawaz, another shopper, held the present rulers responsible for the price hike, adding that it was impossible for an ordinary man to even think of buying high quality items.
Saleem Khan, a political activist, also said that common people were suffering under unprecedented inflation, which had forced them to opt for low quality items. “People have no other choice. They have to shop for Eid as no one wants to see their children overwhelmed by a sense of deprivation,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, it was observed that the presence of these stalls is irking large business owners, who consider them a threat.
Raja Ehtesham, an office bearer of All Traders Association, said these stall owners were overcharging people because of Eid, while they were selling poor quality items. He said they were inflicting losses of millions of rupees to the national exchequer as they did not pay any taxes.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.