GUWAHATI: The COVID-19 pandemic dampened the festive spirit during Durga Puja last year. However, following improvement in the COVID scenario and the government relaxing restrictions, the festive buzz seems to be back this year.
Fancy Bazar has always been the favourite place for people of Guwahati to do their Puja shopping. The shops in Fancy Bazar are teeming with people. Of course, one will not find the mad rush of shoppers that was witnessed during the pre-COVID times, but there is a rush nonetheless. Despite the recent price hike, people are crowding the shops to buy clothes for themselves and their near and dear ones. Shopkeepers are also giving discounts to attract more and more customers so that this year sales are better than last year.
"Sale this year is not as good as it was in the previous years. However, it is 40 per cent-50 per cent better than what it was last year," said Ram Niranjan Jajodia, vice-president of the All Guwahati Traders' Association. He further said, "Online shopping and the shopping malls have hampered our business. People now prefer to shop online or go to shopping malls. Fancy Bazar is a shopping hub for the north-eastern region. But this year people from only nearby areas like Rangia, Nagaon and Chhaygaon have come here to shop."
"For the festive season, we have to stock our items much earlier. Sale has not been as per our estimate but at least we don't have to bear losses," Said Jajodia.
Nekib Imam Saikia, general secretary of the Lakhtokia Merchant Association, said, "Since the last two days business has picked up. In comparison to 2019 and 2020, sale is better this year." He also admitted that online shopping had affected business. "But there is a different charm of coming to Fancy Bazar for shopping, nothing can beat that. People make it a point to come to Fancy Bazar for their Durga Puja shopping once at least. This year the government announced relaxations ahead of Durga Puja. People are happy to be able to come out of their homes and do some shopping. There has been a heavy rush in Fancy Bazar since the last two days," added Saikia.