His shop stocks both old and new books, but business has been bad since demonetisation kicked in. Gupta has stopped accepting the old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes since distributors and publishers wouldn’t take them. “I don’t have time to stand in queues and deposit these notes in my account,” he said.
Dates for the School Service Commission and several other examinations were announced last month, but College Street has yet to see the usual rush of customers looking for guide books and other reading material.“In normal circumstances, my daily sales at this time could have shot up to Rs 4,000. For the past week or two, it has been less than Rs 2,500,” said Gupta, who has never used e-wallets such as Paytm.
Payments by cheque are not feasible for a small business like his. “How can I be sure a cheque issued by a customer I don’t know won’t bounce?”Gupta said.
Pratap Nag, partner in Bhim Nag, the landmark sweet shop in Bowbazar
Sweet shops small and large have been affected by demonetisation and even a Bhim Nag hasn’t been able to stem the tide. The shop stopped accepting old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 9 itself. Pratap declined to reveal his daily sales, but did say that production of several popular items had been scaled down. “If we used to produce 4kg of a particular sandesh, we have reduced that to less than 2.5kg,” he said.
The shop accepts cheques for bulk orders, but delivers only after payments are credited.
Sk Mohammed Nasiruddin, owner of a sports gear shop at the Bidhan Chandra Roy Market near Shahid Minar
Winter is normally peak season for Nasiruddin and other traders, but the early signs have been depressing. “This time last year, my daily retail sales would be worth more than Rs 10,000 on an average. Over the past few weeks, that has come down to Rs 5,000-6,000,” Nasiruddin said.
Last month, a young man had visited his shop to buy a pair of soccer boots priced Rs 600. He was carrying a Rs 2,000 note. Nasiruddin couldn’t sell the boots because he did not have enough change.
Zahid Hussain, manager of the iconic College Street Coffee House
Hussain said there had been a sharp dip in sales since November 8. Before the cash curbs kicked in, average daily sales would be worth around Rs 80,000. In the first two weeks after demonetisation, sales dropped to 50,000 before rising marginally.
“The government should have come out with a back-up plan before announcing the changes,” Hussain told Metro.