Violence takes heavy toll on small traders during Ramadan | Pakistan Today

Violence takes heavy toll on small traders during Ramadan

Gone are the days when the shopping-intensive month of Ramadan, preceding the annual Eid festival, used to be a season of profit-making for small traders. Thanks to violence that has been politically motivated and the resultant closure of businesses in the volatile metropolis of Karachi. As the holy month has concluded with intermittent but continued episodes of bloodshed, traders are complaining of financial losses amounting to billions of rupees.
According to Karachi Tajir Ittehad (KTI) chairman Atique Mir, an association of over 500 trading units, violence has cost small traders around Rs20 billion during the month. The KTI chief said shopping in connection with Eid preparations was estimated at Rs2000 per head. This accounts for Rs40 billion, in terms of sales, for the whole month. “People buy clothes, cosmetics, hosiery etc as part of their Eid shopping during Ramadan,” Mir told Pakistan Today.
The trader, referring to a rough estimate, said violence and the ensuing fear that kept buyers indoor and away from markets, had cut their sales down by Rs20 billion during the month.
“Our rough estimates suggested that Eid sales were to account for Rs40 billion this year, but they could hardly touch the Rs20 billion mark,” the KTI chairman said. The traders say that violence during Ramadan, which used to be an ideal month for traders in terms of sales, had rendered traders entangled with a huge circular debt encompassing retailers, industrialists and suppliers of raw materials. According to Mir, traders had invested around Rs70-75 billion for increasing variety. Goods producers were happily extending credits to the former as they were expecting higher gains.
“But to our surprise, with the passage of time the ingraining violence continued to reduce our sales and during the peak twelve days of mid-Ramadan, we were able to keep our businesses open for only three and a half days,” the trader said.
The small traders now view the four-month wedding season, which according to them ranges from September to Ashura Day, as a “ray of hope” for recovering their losses. “If the situation remains peaceful, we hope to sell our unsold goods during the wedding season,” the KTI chief said.
The financial cost of violence in this multiethnic port city, widely known as the trade and commercial hub of the country, is not a new phenomenon for traders. “Last year too, a poor law and order situation had adversely affected our Eid sales and had reduced them to Rs15 billion,” Mir said.
The KTI chief believed that Karachi is currently undergoing an economic crisis which is augmenting with each passing day. “We, traders, have now started considering Karachi a city where our property and lives are no longer safe,” the trader said.
The official and unofficial closures, which are most of the time motivated by politic reasons, always fall heavily on traders, industry and businesses in this metropolis. Much of the investment is shifted abroad or to other cities of the country such as Lahore.
Trade representatives, perceiving the PPP-led government as a party to the ongoing violence, are now calling on the country’s armed forces to take control of the city for restoration of peace.

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