Markets open but cash and customers both missing

Markets open but cash and customers both missing

Srinagar: After reopening of markets in the city, traders are facing another challenge: neither there are customers, nor cash coming through.
According to Abdul Rahman, a furnishing wholesaler in the city, the situation in markets is so bad that shopkeepers hardly see any customer for the entire day.
Otherwise, he said, business used to be high during June.
“We hardly had time to eat lunch,” he said of the good old days. “Today, we crave for the mere sight of a customer.”
The markets are facing this situation due to the economic losses suffered by Kashmiris as a result of back-to-back lockdowns since August last year. According to estimates made by the two separate business bodies, Jammu and Kashmir has faced cumulative losses of over Rs 25,000 crore since August last year. Tourism, which is one of the main drivers of the economy, as well as handicrafts and horticulture have faced tremendous losses. Transporters also have been badly hit.
Sheikh Ashiq, president of Kashmir Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the market situation is a natural outcome of losses suffered over many years.
“Lockdowns have made common people lose their purchasing power. They have spent all that they saved during the no-work days,” Ashiq said.
Markets were completely shut till December last year due to the lockdown that began in August. January and February remained dry in terms of business. When hopes of doing better business were raised in March, the Covid lockdown hit, throwing everything out of gear, even the government’s much hyped investor summit.
Abdul Wahid Malik, one of the leading tourism players in Kashmir, said that the flow of cash in the market has dried up.
“We have been sitting cross-legged since August. We are facing difficulty even managing daily expenses. One can imagine what will be the fate of the market in such a situation,” he said.
Except groceries dealing in essential items, all other shops including bookshops, stationery, repair workshops, e-commerce and courier services, hotels, restaurants, bakeries are seeing hardly any customers.
“Imagine the fate of business establishments dealing garments, cosmetics, footwear, electronics, jewellery, and boutiques,” said Mukhtar Ahmad, a leading wholesale textiles dealer.
Ashiq said that the government must infuse capital in the market to give a lease of life to traders. Money that the government owes to contractors should also be paid, he added.

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