Jaipur: After a long time the market is cheering the change in consumers’ sentiments. It seems people have forgotten inflation worries. Consumers have expressed renewed interest in gold, property, automobiles and electronic goods despite increase in prices this year. However, the consumers are feeling the pinch when it comes to buying fire crackers, sweets and other perishable goods.
“I bought a car in 2002 for Rs3 lakh now for the same amount I got a car this year with more features,” said Navin Sharma, who is in pharmaceutical business. Same is the story with TV, mobiles and other goods making them affordable for many middle class families.
However, food inflation, costly electricity and expensive fuel are pinching the middle class families the most. “For people like us Diwali is all about special dishes, gifts, lighting and going out to meet relatives and families but because of increased prices of food items, petrol and cooking gas one is less inclined to do all this,” said Shobha a housewife.
“Last year, I had ordered especially made sweets from a nearby store. I even sent a few packets to friends and relatives but this year I ordered only for my family because the prices have increased by almost 50 per cent,” she added.
Suresh Kewal who works in a private bank said that this year he bought for his son fire crackers worth more than Rs2,000 yet he complained that last year he had more firecrackers despite the fact that last year the amount spent on fire crackers was less.
What Diwali has got to do with politics?
A lot, when a ruling party headed by an economist prime minister is accused of mismanaging economy and making people’s lives miserable because of nearly double digit inflation. That too when a crucial state like Gujarat is going to polls next month and even Lok Sabha elections are not too far.
Now Congress leaders, especially PM Manmohan Singh, can hit back at their critics by citing the skyrocketing sales figures during this Diwali festival. Crowded markets have been telling that ‘mehangai dayan’ has failed to subdue the splurging spirit of people, something not possible if the country is in the throes of economic collapse. Yes, the rich bought more and more high-end products while middle class settled for range and brand that fitted its pocket, but no way they kept the purse strings tight. As a result, the cash registers have been ringing since Navratra. Those in denial can check figures. Gold purchase has gone up 30% this year. Car makers too struggled to meet the zooming demand.
Shashi Khandelwal, wife of an executive in an export firm, bought a Rs2 lakh worth diamond necklace on Dussehra and expensive ‘kangans’ on Dhanteras. “I have been buying jewellery in small quantities for the last two years. But this year, he gifted me twice as consolation for long absence from home since he has been frequently going abroad for official work,” she said. The gold prices went up by 20% in a year from Rs26,000 per 10 grams to Rs 32,000, said Kailash Mittal, general secretary, Rajasthan Sarafa Association. There has been a rise of 15-20% in the sale of electronic appliances. But it’s the car sales which took everyone by surprise. “We have sold 35 cars in the last few days. This is 40% more than the last year’s figure. Inflation and rising fuel price don’t matter to our clients,” said Aditya Kasilwal of Audi Jaipur.