Shimla | Heavy discounts offered by online sites, recent rain-related disasters and low apple production have brought down sales of commodities by 30-40 per cent during the ongoing Diwali festival here, according to traders' welfare association, Veopar Mandal Shimla.
"Shopkeepers dealing with traditional items are the worst hit as people are switching to modern items. To add to it, heavy discounts by online sites, offering cash on delivery at doorstep with free exchange in 14 days have left a major dent on the sales of shopkeepers in Shimla city and sales have dropped 30-40 per cent," Veopar Mandal Shimla President Harjit Kumar Monga told PTI on Saturday.
A large number of customers visit shops for window shopping only to see the models available, and then order them online, Inadequate parking facility near the main markets is also a problem, he added.
We have to pay overhead expenditures on employees, rent, and payment of electricity, water and other maintenance charges and cannot match the huge discounts offered by online shopping sites, shop owners rued.
There are about 6,000 business enterprises in Shimla, providing employment to more than 12,000 people. Half of these enterprises are in the main city.
The market has been on a downward trend since demonetisation, followed by implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, Covid pandemic and now the monsoon fury in which 509 lives were lost and over 15,200 houses were damaged, said former President of Veopar Mandal Shimla Inderjeet Singh.
We were hoping for a good sale on Dhantares (Friday) and the day picked up well but rain played spoilsport and people bought essential items and rushed back, he said.
The state economy mainly depends on tourism and apples and there has been no tourism since July.
To add to it, vagaries of weather resulted in low apple production and as compared to 3.6 crore apple boxes last year, the production was just about 50 per cent in 2023, a shopkeeper in the city, Varun, said.
"The sale of Diwali gifts has also come down due to emphasis on digital transactions. Small traders and businessmen dealing in readymade garments, electronic items, toys, mobiles and gift items are having a hard time," another shopkeeper Chunu said.