Trading community in the market worried that COVID-19 resurgence will rob them of a good sale
With just a day left for Vishu, business is yet to pick up pace at the Chala bazaar. Coming on the back of a bleak, pandemic-hit year, the trading community in the market is worried the COVID-19 resurgence is primed to rob them of yet another festive shopping period.
Usually teeming with customers on the days preceding such festivals, the Kothuval street, the KK Road, and the Sabapathy Kovil street witnessed dull activity on Monday with the vegetable and fruits stalls attracting few buyers and vehicles traversing the narrow roads with ease.
Any hopes of sales picking up later by evening also turned to dust with a heavy downpour and gusty winds sending people indoors.
“Just when we thought we were past the worst, the pandemic has returned to haunt us again,” says Krishnan, who has been running a vegetable retail stall in the market for over three decades.
According to him, many traders stocked vegetables including the kani vellari (golden cucumber), an indispensable part of the auspicious Vishu Kani well in advance, anticipating brisk business. “However, the last few days have not shown any encouraging signs yet. Fearing the possibility of crowding here, some of our frequent customers may have opted for shops nearer to their homes,” he said.
Irshad, a vegetable vendor at the KK Market, believes the purchasing capacity of the people could also have fallen with many losing their jobs or suffering salary cuts since the COVID-19 outbreak, resulting in many opting for low-key celebrations.
While the prices of perishables usually rise during such festivals, they have witnessed an unprecedented dip during the last few days.
Sivan, who runs SN Vegetables in Chala, pointed out the price of shallots that had touched ₹130 per kg few months ago has fallen to ₹40 per kg.
Likewise, onions sold for ₹15 to ₹20 in the retail market. While some traders sell the kani vellari for ₹25 per kg during the Vishu season, few others offer them at a lowly ₹10.
The price of vellarikka (cucumber) also fell by a half from ₹30 to ₹15, while pumpkins costed ₹15 per kg, a marked fall from its rates ranging from ₹30 to ₹40 during Vishu the previous years. Contrastingly, the price of garlic increased from ₹60 per kg to touch ₹90 per kg.
The prices of banana varieties remained largely stable. While the njalipoovan costed ₹40 per kg, palayankodan, nendran and robusta fetched ₹25, ₹40 and ₹20 respectively.
The trading community hoped for a marked turnaround of fortunes on Tuesday, but fear restrictions imposed by the police to prevent crowding to play spoilsport.