Deepavali has brought people swarming shopping areas for last minute purchase, despite the impact of Goods and Services tax (GST). The shopping areas in the vicinity of Periyar bus stand — Town Hall Road, Netaji Road and West Masi Street — were jam-packed with men, women and children, making huge purchases for the joyous occasion. The rural scene was not different as big villages and small towns around Madurai drew shoppers from interior villages. .
Dhanam, a homemaker, while complaining about GST, said, “It is Deepavali. We have to gift new clothes. Unlike last year, this time I had to choose quantity over quality.” She added that though the price of clothes, sweets and crackers had increased, her family celebrating the festive occasion was more important.
Like her, many other shoppers who had misgivings about the dent GST made on their Deepavali budget, did not let it dampen the spirit. A group of youngsters said Deepavali being a joyous occasion, any increase in prices did not have any impact on their festival plans. However, sweet shop owners complained that sales had dropped compared to last year. “Even corporate orders have come down,” said a shopkeeper. Felix Maria, a customer, said, “Last year, I bought 50 kg of sweets for family and friends, but this year I doubt if I can buy that much.”
Textile shop owners said the going was good in the run-up to the festival till Deepavali eve. But with big retail giants entering Madurai, people preferred them over standalone and sundry shops, they said.
In the countryside
Deepavali shopping means more for villagers than city people since they do not buy dresses and other things on impulse. While city people satiate their cravings through periodic shopping and update their wardrobe as often as the wallet permits, villagers look forward to Deepavali for the once-a-year indulgence.
This Deepavali eve, the pleasant climate and drizzle has added to the shopping pleasure. While Vilakkuthoon and its vicinity remain the Mecca of Deepavali shopping for the commoners, some of the big villages and small towns around Madurai draw crowds from the interior villages. These are farm workers and labourers who cannot afford to come all the way to Madurai.
In Sholavandan, the Market Road and North Car Street started filling with shoppers and an air of expectancy. As the day progresses, the shopping frenzy would start and reach a crescendo at nightfall. According to a restaurateur, who changes business during Deepavali season to sell crackers, Madurai is for people with money. But for those from Mullipallam, Mannadimangalam, Kuruvithurai, Karuppatti, Kadupatti and Vickramangalam, Sholavandan is ‘the place for shopping.’ Same is the case with Chekkanoorani, Vadipatti, Melur, Tirupuvanam and Tirumangalam. These are hubs for Deepavali eve shopping in the respective clusters of villages.