Hyderabad: In Kushal Market, a traditional marketplace in Koti, men who have for decades sold clothes worth lakhs, this year lie in wait for customers. But on the day before Diwali, most were glued to YouTube on their mobiles, hunting for watchable videos. There was no ‘festive rush’ here.
It was the same story across the twin cities, in Badichowdi, Abids and General Bazaar. Traders, both retail and wholesale, complained that business was slow for months. September, with the major festivals of Diwali and Dasara, was similarly disappointing. Most activity in these markets was on the roads: customers perused the flowers and earthen lamps, but ignored the shops behind.
Badri, owner of an apparel shop in General Bazaar, said, “Dasara is usually the busiest time in Telangana, more so than Diwali. However, business was slow even then. We had expected this. We didn’t think the market would pick up.” Other traders agreed. “It has been slow for nearly two years. Dasara was disappointing. We didn’t expect sales for Diwali,” said a readymade garments’ retailer near Gokul Chat in Koti.
Akshath, who owns a saree and dress shop in Badichowdi, claimed his business had dropped 40 per cent from two years ago. The market had not been the same since demonetisation and the GST implementation, both within a span of six months. “Customers are fewer,” he said. “I don’t have liquidity for my business anymore. It is difficult for retailers like me to get credit from wholesalers. They don’t trust us. They ask us to pay for supplied goods as soon we can, often in less than two months.” Earlier, wholesalers gave them more leeway, he added. “Today, I only take goods that I am sure of selling. I am not taking risks,” he said.
Akshath added that factors like the TSRTC employees’ strike and the Metro construction in Badichowdi had also affected his business.
A hosiery shop owner in Abids claimed he had trouble getting regular supply. “The stocks aren’t selling as quickly as they used to. Wholesalers are not supplying goods, for they know we cannot sell it in time for our payment schedules,” he said.
Pawan Bansal, president of the Garments Manufa-cturers and Wholesalers Association (TS), admitted that wholesalers had made credit lines tighter. This was because of the reduced buying power of customers. “Earlier, when we supplied to a retailer, we were sure of getting our money within 60-75 days,” he said.
“Today, if given the same leeway, they will pay us only after seven or eight months. The retailers are more worried about meeting their own needs than paying us. We have no option but to change how we operate,” he said.
Mr Bansal claimed demand is low all over, not just in the clothing industry. “There is an economic slowdown. People are spending conservatively. There was no activity in the malls,” he said.
A garment trader from General Bazaar also blamed the TSRTC strike. “When buses are running people are mobile. Only then will they enter our shops,” he said.
Signs don’t bode well for the industry. India Brand Equity Foundation report said, it is the second largest employer in the country, after agriculture....