As Eid approaches, traders are hopeful business will pick up. According to vendors from different markets in the twin cities, business has been slow this Ramazan as most people prefer to stay home.
Kashif, who works at Le Balto restaurant in F-11, said it was only a matter of days before things got back to normal. “Business for us has dropped by almost 50 per cent this month. Most of our customers only come in after iftar for a drink or tea. No one wants to eat after they have had a hearty meal at home.”
Restaurants which do not offer a special iftar buffet suffer the most, such as ours, he stated. “We often have to keep our restaurant open till sehri to be able to serve more customers and meet our target.”
Abdul Ghaffar, a florist in Rawalpindi’s Lalkurti Bazaar, said that they had been unable to meet their financial target this month, despite having better turnover than last Ramazan. “A large variety of flowers bought at wholesale rates does not help us reach our goals or make the required profit.” There has been a recent increase in sale by people who are now gearing up for the festive occasion of Eid, he added.
Superstores have also seen a loss of business this month. The store manager at D Watson F-10 stated that only wheat, rice, sugar and edible items had been selling out this month. He remarked that the store timings had to be extended often till after 2am as customers usually came in to buy grocery items late at night.
“The sale of chocolates and sweets has also been on the rise as people have begun to stock up for Eid now that prices are comparatively low. Eid brings a lot of business for us and helps us return to normal profit levels.” Sale of drinks and snacks has been stagnant ever since Ramazan started, he added.
Street vendors are also hopeful of good returns. According to Mohammad Akram, owner of a shop selling fried items for iftar, sellers celebrate the spirit of Ramazan by increasing the prices of their goods by a large margin. Faisal who works at a shop selling fried snacks for iftar in the capital, stated that business had approximately dropped by 40 per cent since last Ramazan and hoped to make up for it before Eid.
It is a different story for consumers, however. People are increasingly finding it difficult to provide for their families. Khurram abid, a labourer, sits on a green belt in G-9, in the hope of getting food from a kind passerby. He said that times were not as tough last year, when it was possible for him to provide for his family.
According to Sajid Hussain, customers would soon have to resort to window-shopping for food if prices were not controlled. He said that his kids loved mangoes but he was now unable to buy any.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.