Festival of lights less bright for business?

Some Little India shopkeepers and stallholders are reporting lower sales this Deepavali season.

Stallholder Ganes Kannasamy, 42, has been working at the Deepavali Festival Village, which stretches from Campbell Lane to Hastings Road, since it started about 15 years ago.

He told The New Paper: "There has been a 30 per cent drop in our income compared to last year.

"We can see that our customers' spending power is reduced as we are not getting the same profit."

He said that one reason could be the slowing economy.

"They spend less because they are afraid of not having enough money," he said.

Mr Venkat Muthukrishnan, 29, who works at jewellery shop Mukuthi Corner on Kerbau Road, said that the numbers had already been dropping before the festive season.

The shop used to get around 3,000 customers a year, but will struggle to hit half of that, judging from the traffic over the past six months.

Mr Narayanasamy Muthu, 69, owner of Kamala Jewellers on Serangoon Road, said the festive season brings in 20 to 30 customers a day instead of the usual 10.

But this is still a far cry from what he used to get in the past.

"There are fewer tourists, so now we have to rely on our local customers more," said Mr Narayanasamy.

GIFTS

Determined to turn things around, he has started giving out small gifts with every purchase, in the hopes of building a loyal base of regulars.

"We have to improve our business," he said, "there is no other way."

But one store owner is not too perturbed by the smaller crowds.

Human resource and exports manager Kartik Balakrishnan, 29, said the decline in patronage does not affect his family's business much because they sell prayer and religious items, which are in high demand.

He is even hoping to see a bump in profit as Deepavali nears.

"We still have until Friday, the eve of Deepavali, so fingers crossed," he said.

"I'm hoping and praying. It's Deepavali, after all."

leeganjp@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on October 27, 2016.
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