The Kashmir Retailers Association on Monday expressed gratitude to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha for providing “flexibility” in restrictions this week in view of the Eid-ul-Adha festival.
The association had appealed to the Lieutenant Governor to permit the shopkeepers and street vendors to work on the weekend as the markets had remained under restrictions on weekends in the wake of the second wave of Covid-19 for curbing the spread of the deadly virus.
“Based on our request the authorities decided to provide flexibility this week as Eid is coming up in the next few days. The traders were really worried because of the prevailing situation for the past three years now,” said Farhan Kitab, the Kashmir Retailers Association President.
The traders community of Kashmir has suffered a huge loss in the past three years, initially due to the August 2019 clampdown and later due to the two consecutive COVID19 lockdowns. “For most of us, the stocks have piled up and we owe to the banks,” said Kitab. “We haven’t been able to pay the debts.”
The traders and street vendors were hopeful to see a revival in the business this year however, the second wave of Covid-19 hit the region that led to a huge number of infections, deaths, and yet another lockdown that was followed by weekend restrictions.
The traders generating employment in Kashmir by providing job opportunities to the youth have been unable to pay their salaries, said Kitab. “Most of the shopkeepers also owe (money to) their salesmen. The retail sector of Kashmir generates employment in Kashmir and we are the tax generators but now our taxes and electric bills have piled up,” he said.
While a hassle-free business was allowed on the two consecutive days on the past weekend, the sales however have been low compared to the previous festive seasons, said Kitab. “These two days of ease helped in relieving the stress levels but the sales were only 20 percent as compared to the previous festive seasons,” he said. “Whatever little we have earned, has been used in paying the bills.”
Kitab said that this time the customers have been restricting themselves from shopping for Eid as the administration has been informing the public about the chances of an upcoming third wave of Covid-19. “There is inflation on essential items which has hit the budget of people. People are mostly just coming out to just get out of their homes otherwise,” said Kitab.
The shopkeepers, however, followed the necessary protocols including wearing masks, keeping the sanitizers available in their shops, and restricting entry without face masks, said Kitab. “But the market has failed to gain the momentum.”