The traders rue that only half the shops are back and those running business outside the market are playing a spoilsport in the market’s trade volume.
“For over a year, we are not receiving customers, because many new markets have come up in the city. It started after the entire market became a cluster area for COVID-19 and shops were shifted to Tirumazhisai. When the market reopened, only half the shops returned. The remaining flower shops have been set up at Retteri, Madhavaram, Kolathur, Maduravoyal, and Porur,” said S Mookandi, secretary of Koyambedu Flower Merchants’ Association.
The vendors’ association members said at least the vegetable and fruit markets had a chance to sell the commodities in open vehicles during the lockdown but the flower market was left without any help. Not only the traders, but even farmers, vendors, and labourers are also affected without income from last year, according to them.
“Though there was no business, vendors had to stick to the job they were doing for years as they were unable to find other jobs for their livelihood,” said Ellapan K, another flower vendor at Koyambedu.
During the second wave, to prevent the area from becoming a cluster again, there were many restrictions. Only retailers were allowed to purchase and timings to conduct business was curtailed to just evening hours. As many vendors moved from the market and set up shops in various areas of the city, the majority of retail vendors preferred buying flowers, fruits, and vegetables from them, which severely affected the business at the Koyambedu market.
“The sale was affected from last year, and there is only 50 per cent of business now. Also, the rent at Koyambedu market is more now and they can’t afford it,” said S Dhanasekar, secretary, Koyambedu Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Merchants’ Association.
“Without enough vendors and shops, the entire sale at the market has affected. Even during the festival time, both the prices and sale has drastically decreased, and the wastage has increased. For Ayudha Pooja, over 100-120 tonnes of fruits were not sold and had to be discarded,” he added.