As Peshawar gets a jump-start on Eid, its residents make a beeline to the markets to get last-minute alterations on their new clothes and pick those matching shoes. The city and its surrounding areas are on a shopping rampage.
The city looks deserted in the mornings as people stay up late, spending and making money. At night, Khyber Bazaar, Qissa Khwani, Meena Bazaar and the likes are left with no breathing room.
The district administration has banned the entry of men in Meena Bazaar, Kochi Bazaar and Shaheen Bazaar, located in congested areas in the city.
A district administration official told The Express Tribune men have been banned in markets which are considered “women specific”. Adequate security arrangements have been made with police mobiles patrolling all busy shopping centres, he said. Three check points have been set up at the entry of Saddar to maintain security.
However, no arrangements have been made to accommodate the influx of shoppers from nearby areas. Without sufficient parking space, visitors were forced to park on the roads – a space already taken by stalls and shop extensions.
“There is a rush at every stall in every market, thanks to which shopkeepers have inflated all prices,” said Ghulam Husain who was busy bargaining with shopkeepers in Saddar over a pair of shoes.
There is no mechanism to keep prices under control and prevent retailers from overcharging as police officials only focused on maintaining the security, he complained.
On the flip side, shoe retailer Sardar Mehmood said, “We have no time for ourselves; everybody’s rushing to shop for the festive occasion.”
A similar swarm could be seen outside food stores as people stocked up on sweets, and ingredients to make sweet vermicelli and sheer khorma.
Shrinking purchasing power
Meanwhile, some of the residents of Abbottabad have been on a mission in the run-up to Eid—to find cheap Eid deals. Those who could afford it can be seen at places like Cantonment Plaza but for many, small sale points set up on the roadside are a blessing.
There, shopkeepers, mostly Afghan citizens, sell cheap shoes, clothes and cosmetics—cheap but close to what’s considered on-trend—to buyers who cannot afford inflated Eid prices.
Made in China
These consumer goods are mostly from China, knock-offs of knock-offs. But customers know what they are getting. “I know the things I bought from the kiosk are poor quality […] but I am left with only two options—either buy my children nothing or celebrate Eid with new clothes and shoes,” said Saman Bibi from Dhamtor. She has four children and her husband, an employee of a private security company, earns Rs12,000 a month. Shoppers suggested that if the government had kept a better eye on profiteering, there would have been less space for impromptu roadside set-ups selling poor quality products. They claimed even big shops sell the same wares but with fake stickers of known brands.
However, Naeem Awan, an office bearer of the Anjuman Tajiran Abbottabad, denied that the big shops were cheating consumers.
Nauroz, a government employee told The Express Tribune he bought three pairs of shoes for his children and spent only Rs1,500 at the stalls. Showing off his shopping, Nauroz said he knew it was substandard stuff but at the end of the day, it meant his children would have new shoes for Eid.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.