The famous ‘tailor-lane’ opposite Hollywood Footwear at Abids, was perhaps the busiest at this time of the year, when people would throng the lane to get their festive finery stitched to style. Until a couple of years ago, beautiful cloth materials of all hues were cut to size by the experienced tailors here to achieve the finesse associated with the festive grandeur of Ramzan.
But this year, Ramzan could be round the corner but the usual hustle bustle one associated with the bazaars of Abids is missing. The ‘tailor-lane’ is rather empty, wears a forlorn look and the bazaar of Abids appears deserted. Shopkeepers say that many of their loyal Ramzan customers were NRIs and those who live outside the state but would come here for the festive season but have kept their travel plans on hold owing to the ongoing ‘T’ agitation. On Thursday, when yet another Telangana bandh was announced, shopkeepers said their worst nightmare was not over yet.
With few days to go before Ramzan this year, sales have dipped by 30%, in comparison to the corresponding period in the previous years, said Abids traders. “We may have our set of loyal customers who keep coming to us out of habit, but the NRIs who would come to us for traditional clothing, are missing for the last two years,” said Kandula Murali of K M Chithiah and Sons, a tailor-shop in Abids.
Tailors say they would start getting orders by June, and this year, the orders started coming in only after the first week of July. “My business has dipped by 50%. Earlier, customers would vie to place orders so that they get their new clothes on time. It would all start in June. This year, it has started more than a month late. We are also not getting the NRI crowd, who would place bulk orders like 40 to 50 suits and salwars. It is a huge loss for us and we are surviving only because of the wedding season that is on,” said M A Sattar of She’s Tailor.
“This is the NRI time of the year for us, when people from the US visit the city and shop in bulk. From the last couple of years, many of our loyal customers who used to come in from the US, have reservations about coming to the city because of the volatile atmosphere,” said Kapil Bulchand, owner of the Bulchand store.
Traders rue that they lose 4% of their monthly revenue for each day’s poor sale. With people from outside the city, who would traditionally come down to do their festive shopping, choosing to go to Bangalore, Pune and Delhi, traders at Abids are a worried lot. “If our shop, which is rather famous, is doing dull business, I can only imagine the plight of smaller establishments,” said Ismail of Hollywood Footwear, adding that earlier, people would set aside bulk budgets for shopping at Abids, with everything available in one area, and were now looking at other options.
Traders said that they had already been losing out on revenue, thanks to the many bandhs. This problem is now compounded and looming large, with dipping Ramzan sales, they say. And if not Telangana, there are other agitations giving them much grief. “Even yesterday, there was a bandh called by textile traders. Most of the shoppers today believe in impulsive buying, and would not really come back to the same place, if the shop is shut. During this peak time, we lose out on revenue because of such bandhs,” said a shopkeeper of a readymade garments store, talking about the unfriendly policies of the government, which force traders to undertake bandhs to oppose them.
In fact, tailors in the famous tailor-lane are also plagued with worker woes, as they are finding it increasingly difficult to find workers, many of whom have moved on to greener pastures outside the city. “Earlier, the tailor-lane would function through the night, with tailors having to forgo their sleep during the Ramzan season because of the bulk orders they used to get. Now, they are relatively free even during the day,” said an Abids trader. Corroborating his view, G N Rao, the owner of a tailoring unit related his woes, “We do not have enough workers, to be able to take up orders. When we do not get orders, it is difficult to pay those that we have.” TOI