As most major markets across the city brim with customers in the run-up to Eidul Fitr, the vast majority of shopkeepers from Gulberg area opine that locals seem to have lost their penchant for shopping ahead of the festival this year.
“It is too hot this time around,” Arsalan, a shopkeeper from Liberty Market told The Express Tribune. He said the number of people frequenting the market around Eid was markedly lower than last year. Arsalan said the market remained open till 2am in the morning despite the low number of customers.
Other shopkeepers aired similar observations but cited different reasons for the low number of customers. They said they had not been allowed to set up henna and bangles stalls in the market, which had become the trademark of Liberty, over the past few years. Muhammad Rafique, who runs a shoe shop in the area, says stalls were usually set up by Ramazan 22. “The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) kept inconveniencing people and did not allow them to establish stalls,” he said. Rafique said droves of people used to throng the stalls in the run-up to Eid. “They complemented the festive atmosphere that precedes the festival especially on chaand raat,” he said.
Saad Burhan, a jewellery stall owner, concurred with Rafique. “A lot of people used to visit henna stalls,” Burhan said. He bemoaned the absence of henna stalls this time around saying it had negatively affected his business as well.
A similar situation is prevalent in Main Market where the market is devoid of the henna and bangles stalls that used to appear every year in the run-up to the festival. The shopkeepers from the area also accused the LDA of not allowing them to set up shop this time around.
LDA Spokesperson Sohail Janjua rejected the shopkeepers’ claims. He said the authority had noting to do with the stalls. Janjua said such issues came under the ambit of the Gulberg Municipal Authority.
While some shopkeepers cited the paucity of stalls as being one of the reasons behind the lack of Eid rush others blamed the increase in prices over the year for the low turnout. Abdul Wahab, the proprietor of a cloth shop in Gulberg area said prices had become prohibitive. “This has prevented people from shopping like they used to earlier,” he said. Wahab said this was why many people had stopped frequenting markets.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.