Old City’s businessmen struggle even after lockdown relaxations

Hyderabad: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown imposed to curb it has drained people both financially and psychologically. The world is currently battling the virus, for which there is no vaccine yet. And with weddings still being restricted in numbers (to 50), those into related businesses are still reeling with the impact of the slowdown, as business is still bad. 

The lockdown which was imposed in Telangana from March 22, was relaxed gradually from May end, which allowed traders and small businessmen to function again. While that gave some hope among businesses, that they would be able to make up for their losses, the situation is anything but normal, given that weddings are now a small affair at best. 

Losses due to few, low-key marriages

“People now prefer dresses in the low range only,” said a store owner from Pathergatti, which is the hub of bridal outfit stores. Menaaz Bridal Outfit store, which used to earlier sell bridal outfits above R.30,000, now mostly sells clothes worth Rs.10,000 or less, indicating that people are also not interested in splurging on weddings anymore. 

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Pathergatti in Madina, which is a popular spot for bridal wear showrooms, has always been a busy road. Pre-lockdown, it used to be a task walking down the street from one end to another. However, the entire market area is forlorn most of the day. Several owners at these showrooms said that business is at a historic low. 

A man from the city, who did not want to get quoted, said, “Previously, the plan was to get my wife a real finely-embroidered bridal outfit, which would have easily cost Rs. 80,000 and more. But, the wedding was made low-key due to the government’s restrictions. So, we bought her a simple one that cost us Rs. 15,000 only. The entire wedding was completed under Rs. 2 lakh.”

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The monetary loss has also hit merchants at the famous Laad Bazaar, famous for its bangles. The lockdown has hit business so hard that shops have reduced their prices of the famous stonework chura (bangle set) to Rs. 500-Rs.600, instead of its usual Rs.800. As weddings have become a minimal affair, the stores with the accessories almost have no customers.

Moreover, the situation has also forced shop owners to cut down the salaries of their employees, which as only added to the stress on daily-wage workers. “I have taken Rs.20,000 in loan to run my family,” said a worker, who did not want to be named. In total, there are over 3,000 shops in the markets of Laad Bazaar, Pathergatti, Madina Building, Gulzar Houz, Khilwat and Deewan Deodi trading in a variety of goods including clothes, crockery, perfumes, jewelry, footwear and others. 

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