“Chaitra Jodi bhalo, samner bochor alo (If Chaitra goes well, the coming year will be full of light).” This was what we heard Sadhan Das, a bed linen seller at the Hatibagan Market, hollering at the top of his voice to attract customers. And these words basically define the mood among vendors as well as shoppers during the current Chaitra sale season.
Hope rules city markets
The run-up to Poila Boishakh is peak season for city shopkeepers. And this year, it’s all the more important because the nationwide lockdown had wiped out all business prospects around this time last year. So naturally, hopes are high this year. “We’ve already achieved around 80% of pre-pandemic sales. This is a first since the lockdown,” said Rakesh Kumar, a junk jewellery seller at the Hatibagan market.Around this time last year, Sadhan and his family would stand in queues for free food every day. “It was a
horrible time. Business was bad even ahead of Durga Puja. But because of the vaccine, things are looking up this year,” he said.
Most markets have been witnessing an increase in footfall since the beginning of March. “Poila Boishakh shopping usually begins in the second or third week of March. But it was different this year,” said Shabbir Md, a printed T-shirt seller at New Market.
Quite a few hawkers, however, told us that after peaking in the third week of March, footfall dropped a bit after news of a second COVID wave started coming in. Now the sellers are expecting better sales in the days ahead. “It should increase from the first week of April,” said Ajay Jha, a junk jewellery seller on Lindsay Street.
While many vendors started procuring fresh stock from February-end, some are taking one step at a time. “If I sell everything I have by the first week of April, I’ll order new stock,” said Shyamal Mandal, a cutlery seller at Gariahat.
So what’s selling?
According to the vendors, people are mostly buying casual clothes to wear at home, office wear, bags and junk jewellery. We spotted Ichhapur-based Sumita Paul shopping for bags at the Hatibagan market. She told us that she has been attending office daily since January. “So, I’ve come here to buy a couple of backpacks and sling bags to take to work,” she said.
Jaya Das, a software professional, was shopping for jewellery, as one of her best friends is getting married in May. “This feels really nice. Kolkata has started feeling like the city it used to be before the pandemic. I hope the second wave doesn’t affect us much,” she said.
Source: Times of India