KARACHI: High inflation and monsoon rains have dampened traditional Eid Al-Adha shopping in Pakistan’s major urban centers, traders said, as prices have soared to the highest in two decades.
Eid Al-Adha is the second biggest holiday of the year in Pakistan, after Eid Al-Fitr, when families, besides buying sacrificial animals, get together and relatives and friends exchange gifts and dress up in new clothes. In the run-up to celebrations, markets traditionally observe a surge in shopping, with people buying jewelry, clothing, and shoes.
This year, however, few were able to afford Eid shopping as the inflation rate crossed 21 percent, its highest in 13 years, after the government hit by a surging fiscal deficit increased the prices of fuel and energy.
Monsoon rains since June have also kept shoppers away from markets as many trading venues were flooded ahead of Eid.
“The markets this year have lost their traditional touch of shopping craze and giving a gloomy look mainly because of the dwindling purchase power of people and recent rains that have flooded the major markets,” Atiq Mir, chairman of All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, an umbrella of major business associations in Karachi — the country’s commercial hub — told Arab News.
“The prices are so high that it was not seen in last 20 years,” he said. “In general, this year is disappointing as far sales are concerned.”
Though incessant rains have disrupted shopping at major markets, for those buying sacrificial animals rainfall turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“In the beginning the prices of cattle were very high due to a smaller number of animals,” Asif Ali Syed, spokesman of cattle market in Karachi, told Arab News.
As rains lashed the city, the prices dropped by some 20 percent.
“For instance, a cow that was available for Rs120,000 ($580) before rains is now being sold at around Rs 80,000.”
In Islamabad, markets have been deserted as most of Eid shopping took place in the city’s largest malls.
“Around 80 percent of shop owners have either closed down their businesses or have switched to other sources of income,” Raja Hassan Akhtar, president of All Traders Welfare Association Blue Area, told Arab News.
In Lahore, trade was livelier, according to Naeem Mir, central secretary general of All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran, as people went shopping even though many could not afford it.
“There is no doubt that the higher inflation has impacted every household, but people usually take their salaries in advance or borrow to celebrate Eid,” he said. “This is also happening this year as well.”