Sohail Youssef of the brigade’s Shops and Establishments Association said, “Lighting and decorations alone attract at least 3 to 4 people every year in these streets. As Omicron is spreading faster than imagined, this is a precautionary measure taken by all merchants” (BSEA) .
He added that only 30% to 40% of regular shoppers attended while clothing and electronics were in higher demand this season. Traders have criticized that holiday sales have slumped in malls across Bengaluru due to Omicron’s concerns and New Year’s Eve restrictions.
Read | Karnataka government imposes restrictions on New Year celebrations
“There was definitely a drop in sales between Deepavali and Christmas. Christmas shoppers are buying dresses, but the party crowd is not buying much because there are not many office parties or New Year’s parties in general,” said Sanjay Motwani, head of the Street Traders Association.
“While women buy red dresses, men buy certain suits and shirts,” said a store manager on Commercial Street. Customers feel the prices of many items including flowers and candles have gone up over the years. Anthony, a Christmas decoration shopper, said, “20,000 rupees while they cost half the amount last year.
“Sales are almost back to what they were in pubs, bars and restaurants. But the new restrictions have made many of us anxious,” said Deepak Batavia, president of the Church Street Store Owners Association, in Church Street.
Sumanth Mutt of the famous 1BHK in Koramangala noted that the hospitality sector has faced tough times since the onset of the pandemic. He said, “It will only get worse if the government imposes restrictions in the wake of Omicron. Our main concern is why are they targeting the hospitality sector while other sectors are operating freely?”
He vowed to take necessary precautions over Covid, and added that the hospitality industry does not get taxes or renew rebates. “A holiday is the time when the hospitality industry is getting some business,” Mott said.
Meanwhile, commercial buildings are experimenting with different strategies to attract shoppers. The Bangalore Merchants Association has organized a unique Christmas decorating competition for showrooms and offices on MG Road and nearby areas. Many malls in Koramangala, Whitefield and elsewhere are uniquely decorated based on winter themes.
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