Khan Market’s shopkeepers & shoppers remain cautious

A reluctant reopening

Business

June 8, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

The shops are open, the shoppers are back but the shopping is still missing in New Delhi’s Khan Market

Monday was the first day when New Delhi’s iconic Khan Market was fully reopened for business, after over 75 days of severe restrictions. But neither the shopkeepers nor the shoppers looked at ease.

On Sunday evening, the eve of a complete reopening of Khan Market, New Delhi’s most exclusive shopping complex, the crowds seemed to have returned in full force. All the signs of a normal weekend evening were there. Long queues of upscale cars and SUVs crawling ahead to drop off New Delhi’s A-listers at their favourite haunt, dozens of young girls and boys, some with dogs in their arms lining up to enter a variety of shops selling anything from a pastry and coffee to grocers and from imported cosmetics to high-end electronic goods.

Despite all the appearances of normalcy in the midst of an ever-rising count of victims of coronavirus pandemic, scratch the surface and the fear and worries come through rapidly. The shopkeepers, who have incurred huge losses due to the lockdown and the resultant blow out of the national economy, are extremely pessimistic about the next few months.

“We reopened the shop on May 19 and the business has been horrible since then. We only have 5-10 pc of the people coming. People who actually need to buy specific products are coming to our shops. Other than that we don’t have many customers and I don’t see any big change in the situation till the vaccine comes as most people are staying away from markets and buy only the most essential things like food or medicines. We do not know for how long we can carry on like this as it’s a total loss,” Vicky Chugh of Sai Gadgets, an electronics store in Khan Market tells Media India Group.

The buyers are still rare while most are window shopping

Even the grocers complain about the business. Bombay Fruit Mart is one of the oldest supermarkets in Khan Market. Laxmi Narayan Rajora, who along with his brother runs the shop, says that his business has been down by up to 70 pc since the lockdown began and he too does not see any rapid pickup even though the market is now fully open. “Most customers are scared to come to the market. Either they make do without some products or they order it online. Even though we also accept and deliver online orders the demand is nowhere near its normal level. Even on a weekend when our shop is normally overflowing with people we have had very few customers. As all our workers have gone back to their villages it’s me and my brothers who are taking care of the whole business,” adds Rajora.

Dr Prerna Malik who was there at one of the bakery shops in the area to buy cake for a birthday feels that people will be scared for a long time. “Even though I know that the coronavirus is going to be there for a while, we are not going to socialise like we used to. We will try and stay indoors as much as possible. Partying and catching up with friends is not something we plan now till the coronavirus is here,” says Dr Malik.

Perhaps for the first time since the lockdown began, Khan Market saw a traffic jam as people were trying to find a parking spot in the crowded market

Even though there was a decent amount of crowd where people could be seen window shopping, the usual vibrancy of business in Khan Market is still a long way off. With restaurants and pubs open from today, the shopkeepers are hopeful that the business sentiment may improve but the late night upscale crowd that Khan Market is really known for will not yet be thronging its multiple bars and pubs as the opening timings are still heavily regulated.

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