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Stricter licensing of retail trade dampens hope of cracker sales

Unprecedentedly, the authorities cancelled 1,700 trading licences through retail outlets in Chennai, while the festival of Deepavali is on this weekend, T Ganesan, a retail trader with 120 branded varieties, in Sivakasi, Virudhunagar district told DT Next on Sunday.

Stricter licensing of retail trade dampens hope of cracker sales
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A cracker shop in Sivakasi

MADURAI: The effect of stricter licensing on retail trade of crackers has cast a shadow over business in Sivakasi, the fireworks hub of India.

Though local sales started picking up over the last two days, as revellers bought crackers of their choice in small quantities, several retail traders, who face uncertainty about temporary licencing freeze in various districts across Tamil Nadu are hesitant to purchase crackers in bulk.

Unprecedentedly, the authorities cancelled 1,700 trading licences through retail outlets in Chennai, while the festival of Deepavali is on this weekend, T Ganesan, a retail trader with 120 branded varieties, in Sivakasi, Virudhunagar district told DT Next on Sunday.

On the other hand, business is becoming more and more online and those who rely on countertrade, which’s been practiced for a long time, find it challenging as many unscrupulous sellers exploit this situation to make buyers feel cheated. Two cases were recently booked for cheating buyers after contact numbers provided online remain switched off. Capitalising on the online advertising market, people were enticed to buy on the pretext of rating branded items at very heavy discounts. Mostly, banned and unbranded items were sold online said a retailer.

A 1,000-wala joint cracker was priced just Rs 150 online and genuine traders could not compete with the artificial low price as the countertrade suffered more hassle when people bargained hard on price citing online prices. The retail market price, which increased by 30 per cent last year, remains unchanged this year. However, overall, his business has halved in size, the retailer added.

D Prabakar, president, Sivakasi Fireworks Dealers Association, said sales are affected by almost 20 to 25 per cent due to restrictions on issuing temporary licences, which will be effective for 15 days.

According to N Elangovan, general secretary, Federation of Tamil Nadu Fireworks Traders, temporary licences were usually issued a month ago ahead of Deepavali as per rule and last year licences were issued 15 days prior to the festival. Major temporary licences holders are in Chennai, Madurai, Salem and Krishnagiri. Over the last 10 days, market conditions were not conducive to business as rains and wet weather dashed many of our hopes. Unusually, cracker manufacturing came to a halt owing to rainfall diminishing the availability of goods in the market, he noted.

J Praveen Paul Joseph
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