Guess who’s not very happy at the start of 2018! Our very own kite traders. The success of the ban on Chinese lanterns on Uttarayan last year had dented their profit margins. While the city police commissioner has already announced the ban this year too, traders fear the situation will be worse owing to the 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST) imposed on the industry. They claim that sales are nowhere near what they should be at this time of the season.

They are still awaiting wholesale orders that should have already landed with them. Earlier, the kite industry was in 12% slab. It was later brought down to 5% after protests. However, traders feel that even that is unjust as they fear sales will drop by as much as 50%. The grimness of the situation can be gauged from the fact that the footfall has been abysmal at the usually brimming kite and manja shops near Kalupur Darwaja that are popular among kite enthusiasts in the city.

Nasirbhai Ashikbhai of Patang Saj shop in the area says that the GST has hit kite sales, resulting in low demand and meagre profit margins. He avers that with police banning Chinese tukkals in city, they haven’t stocked up on the item. Another shop owner, Wasim Puthawala, claims that the kite business had been tax-free since 1980 up until now. “Business is down, and so are sales. We are barely recovering costs,” he says.

Every year, business in this market is brisk between November and January, with various Uttrarayan-related paraphernalia. However, this year, the usual frenzy is missing. 38-year-old Nasir Saiyyed who is among the 50-odd shopkeepers who have been coming all the way from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh to sell kites for many generations now, says, “Every year we camp in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Delhi for 5-6 months a year and rent the shops for 3 months of the year.

But this time business is down by 35-40% and the only way to avoid losses is to work 8 hours instead of 4 like in earlier hours.” Depending on quality, the cost of 100 kites ranges from Rs 300-500. Deepak Modi, a trader, said, “Business is down by 50% because of GST. Kites are made in Jamalpur. This year, production has been lower compared to previous years, so sales too are less.”He added that kites with cartoon characters are a hit among kids this year. Iqbal Memon of Honest Toydeal shop, which keeps among the biggest stocks of kites and other fancy items on the street, said that besides GST, demonetisation too had led to slump in demand.

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