Jamshedpur: After staring at losses for nearly seven months, sellers of puja items here are upbeat about raking it in during Navaratri, which began from Saturday, as business is picking up pace. In the past two days, the traders have recorded a steep jump in their business and are expecting the trend to continue all through Diwali, Kali Puja and Chhath Puja next month.
“With the temples remaining shut until early October, we had been suffering huge losses right from Chaitra Navratri in April. But now the situation is finally improving,” said Madan Kumar, who owns a puja items shop in Kadma market.
Bijay Kumar Singh, who has a shop near Rankini temple in Kadma, said after Maha Shivratri in February, the ongoing Navratri festival is the first occasion in seven months which has brought buyers to their shops in large numbers.
“Navratri being a nine-day-long festival, the chances of our business recording a growth are more compared to the day-long festivals like Maha Shivaratri, Krishna Janmashtami, etc.,” said Vishnu Sahu, who sells puja items in Sakchi-Baridih main road.
Another vendor named Krishna Kumar said he has noticed a change in customers’ preferences this year in view of pay cuts and job losses in the aftermath of the pandemic. Kumar, who owns a shop at Rani Kudar in Bistupur, said, “The demand for expensive incense sticks and butter is lesser than what it was last year. And I am not surprised since there is less money in the customers’ pockets owing to pay cuts and job losses.”
Some of the traders are hoping that the money earned during Navaratri would help them settle the wholesalers’ dues to a considerable extent.
Meanwhile, the shopkeepers made it a point to ensure that the customers followed the Covid protocols while buying the puja items. In Sakchi market, the shop owners were on their toes to see to it that everyone wore masks and maintained social distancing. “Although all the customers were wearing masks, they had to be constantly reminded for maintaining social distancing. If district authorities come down for an inspection here, then I will be penalized and forced to shut down my shop,” a Handli Line-based shopkeeper preferring anonymity said.
Despite the district administration repeatedly appealing to the buyers in Sakchi market on loudspeakers to maintain social distance, some of them were seen coming in close contact with others while buying the puja items.