For any trader at Delhi’s busy Chandi Chowk, Diwali would be peak season with business booming. But this year, traders have seen an unprecedented lull in sales following the GST roll out.The narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk that houses the city’s best ethnic wear, jewellery and electronic shops are unusually empty this time. With some saying dip in sales has gone upto 60 per cent.
Cloth traders had been objecting to the 5 per cent tax with the coming of GST from the beginning. However, they had expected an ease in the following months but, this continues to remain a distant dream.Rahul, a cloth trader said, “We welcomed the move but we needed more time. This festive season is the time we make most money, now I sit alone at my store all day. I never expected this to happen.”Most small traders have been doing transactions on paper for decades, the computerised system is still something they struggle to understand,Another businessmen said, “My family has run this shop for decades. We’re not educated enough to have an automated system. I’ve bought a computer but we struggle everyday to understand how to file returns”
When the GST was being rolled out, traders at Chandni Chowk went on strike for days, shutting shop demanding more time and information. The shops may have opened now, but sales have dipped drastically.”My shops sales have gone down by 60 per cent, this season used to be the happiest for us, look at what has happened now”, said Pankaj.
This is the time of the year where people, and even companies give gifts to one another. Now, even wholesale dry fruit sellers have taken a serious hit.”At this rate, we might as well put our shutters down. There would be a time when I wouldn’t have place to sit in my shop because of thousand of clothes and customers waiting to get in. I do nothing all day now”, said a cloth trader in Chandni Chowk.