From one lockdown to another, how small businesses in Gurugram are struggling | Gurgaon News – Times of India

GURUGRAM: With the pandemic and the lockdown last year, several businesses suffered huge losses. But as things looked up towards the end of 2020 and many traders and entrepreneurs found their businesses crawling back to normalcy. Another lockdown this year, however, has changed the picture. Smaller businesses have either lost the race or are struggling to stay afloat. People have devised various methods in an attempt to cut down losses. While some have changed their businesses, others have adopted more customer-friendly models to retain old clients and get new ones. TOI spoke to a few owners of small businesses to see how they are coping.
Zuber Ahmed, flute seller
Zuber Ahmed had moved to Gurugram from Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh three years ago. He knew the basics of playing a flute and once in the city, he thought it would help him earn a living. Zuber started selling flutes and playing it at birthday parties and small events. For the past few months, his business had slowly picked up compared to last year. But then Covid cases started rising again and a lockdown was announced.
“I would make Rs 1,000 a day and from that I would keep Rs 600 for myself and the rest of the money would go towards buying flutes. Now, I barely make Rs 200-300 a day,” Zuber said. “I took lessons on YouTube so I could get better. But no parties are happening now and I hardly get a chance to play,” he said.
He stays in Gurugram’s Sector 10 with his wife and two daughters. He had taken a loan of Rs 9,200 that he needs to repay. Recently, one of Zuber’s acquaintances tweeted about him and sought help. Zuber got some donations and the family left for Sultanpur.
Ajay Kumar, grocery store owner
In March, Ajay Kumar opened a grocery store, along with a small counter for homemade masks and sanitisers. He had a mobile phone accessory shop earlier, but with sales dipping, he thought a grocery store was a better idea. “There was not much left in the mobile accessories business due to tough competition,” he said.
According to Kumar, in the past one year, two businesses have done well, grocery and health-related products. “Becoming a chemist requires some qualifications and a licence. But setting up a grocery store is relatively easy. Also, anyone in the family can run it, if I am not around,” he said.
With his old shop, he used to earn Rs 1,000 a day. But that has doubled now. Sometimes, the daily earning is even more than that, he said.
Vipin Dabas, salon owner
Salon owner Vipin Dabas said the business has seen a dip of about 50 % in the past one year. “I am not able to support my staff. I had 12 of them earlier, but after the first wave, the number came down to seven. Although my landlord supported me by reducing the rent by about 50% initially, and 40% of that amount after that, my balance sheet is in the negative,” said Dabas, whose salon is in Sector 23.
“I urge the government and landlords of all salons to support us at this time when our businesses have been hit hard,” he said.Dabas added that after the lockdown was lifted last year, the daily footfall at his salon was down by 50-60%. “The maintenance cost is killing the business. Although some salons have shifted to home-service mode, that cannot be a replacement for in-store services,” he said.
His staff members are also struggling. With marriages and other events getting cancelled or postponed, there is hardly any work, he said.
Sunita Lather, boutique owner
When Sunita Lather opened her shop at a rented basement space at Sector 51, the business had a lot of promise. “But the lockdown was announced and I had to shut my boutique. I did not have any knowledge of online businesses and I could not make a shift to that mode,” she said.
Later, when the restrictions were relaxed, her landlord was not comfortable with reopening the shop. Hence, the store has been shut since March last year, she said.
Her husband has a grocery store at Ardee City. But most people buy things online, sales figures are not good. Recently, he has started home delivery services but he is not able to compete with the big stores. Sunita said she is waiting for the lockdown to be lifted so that she can reach out to her clients.
Chandra Bhan, cosmetic store owner
For Chandra Bhan, the lockdown has been a big setback for his cosmetic store in Faridabad. “I was making about Rs 20,000 a day. But the business has suffered a lot since last year,” he said, adding that daily sales have been reduced to Rs 5,000. He had to let go of several workers and now, the store has less than half of its previous strength. “People are not going out. Weddings and other functions are not happening and all this has affected us,” he said.
Now that shops can stay open for sometime, Bhan is hopeful that things will slowly get better again.


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