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After A Long And Painful Dry Run, Sweet Shop Owners Look To Diwali With Hope
Lucknow, Nov 11, 2020 || The sweet shops of the city are planning to stock on exotic delicacies to attract consumers in order to boost sales and fight slowdown in business due to Covid-19 pandemic. It is going to be a huge economic recovery time for famous sweet outlets of like Chappan Bhog, Neelkanth, Moti Mahal etc. But, what about those unknown ‘Halwayis’ who run their shops with limited production of sweets. Are they going to get some sweet taste of economic recovery?
Suresh Kumar Joshi, who owns a small sweet shop outside the Hanuman Mandir at Aliganj, says, “I have been running this shop for last 40 years but this lockdown period has been the harshest experience for us". Sales have gone down to its lowest and so does the production. But since we are connected to this mandir, we manage to sell some ‘Laddoos’ somehow. He is still hopeful and says, “situation will improve with time. Time is the best healer. But this year’s Diwali is not going to be the same though”.
The Hanuman Mandir at Aliganj is the one of the oldest temples in Lucknow and shops on its streets are also very old. The temple sees hundreds of worshippers daily and witnesses a sea of humanity during ‘Bade Mangal ka Mela’. But the restricted size and bad condition of their shops says a lot about their interest in making huge profits.
They make simple but delicious basic sweets like Laddoos and Pedaas, unlike, the big outlets who have gone miles ahead and have started producing varieties of dry fruits, cookies, sweets including sugar-free and low-fat sweets.
Another, quite optimistic, owner of a small sweet shop in the same locality, Sanjay Joshi admits that he has minimized the size of his outlet due to a sudden fall in demand post pandemic.
He says, “we as mithaiwala's aim that at least one kilogram of sweets are to be produced per family during the festival of Diwali, irrespective of the economic situation of the nation.” He has taken huge responsibilities on his weak shoulders to serve his customers with variety of laddoos and pedaas this Diwali. He tells us that he will start preparing the sweets two days before the grand day as he believes in selling fresh items.
Moving to other part of the city, Santosh Kumar a sweet shop owner outside Gulacheen Mandir at Vikas Nagar, has almost the same story to tell. "Sales have gone down too low this year. But since we sell Laddoo and Pedaas for Prasaad in temples, we see no competition with big sweet outlets." he tells us.
"Only 20% of the total is being sold. The rest is getting wasted", says the owner of Shri Ganesh Mishthaan Bhandar, a sweet outlet in Vikas Nagar. He feels that the falling economy of the country and Pandemic have badly affected their business. Telling us about the variety of sweets available at his shop, he says, "The dry fruits and dry sweets are in demand. We are focusing more on those sweets to meet the demand of people. Sweets made of Desi Ghee are being sold for Pujas". Business might get better in coming days, he added.
Despite the local markets experiencing more footfall than recent months, cautious consumers are still doubtful in coming out and spending excessively. The downfall is leading to unavoidable impact on the middle or low-income families.
People are more inclined towards buying need-based necessities. The pandemic has significantly changed consumer sentiment, behavior and categories on which people want to spend. However, this Diwali local retailers and daily wage workers are in hope to get some blessings of Laxmi Ma on theirs homes and business establishments.
-- Mohd Haris Siddiqui
(The Writer Is An Intern)