The tourist season is at peak but the sales of shopkeepers in Shimla have reduced by almost 30 per cent to 40 per cent. Besides reduced spending capacity or preferences of tourists, local traders say the fairs organised by outsiders at prime locations on the Mall Road and other areas have added to their woes. Tourists are spending mostly on accommodation, food and travel.
While hotel occupancy in Shimla ranges between 90 per cent and 100 per cent, the sales of the shopkeepers have plunged, says Prince Kukreja, vice-president, Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association.
A majority of tourists visiting Shimla are in the age group of 20 to 40 years, who are inclined mostly towards adventure, travel and entertainment than shopping, he says. Traffic chaos, parking hassles and overcrowding on the Mall Road and the Lower Bazaar area is also keeping the tourist away from the marketplace, Kukreja adds.
Shopkeepers have witnessed a decline in business by 30 per cent to 40 per cent as compared to the summer of 2019 (pre-Covid period), as Covid has reduced the spending capacity and preferences of tourists, says Harjit Kumar Monga, president, Veopar Mandal, Shimla.
Online shopping and fairs (makeshift stalls selling mostly food items) by outsiders at prime locations on the Mall Road and The Ridge, including Padam Dev Complex, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, lift parking and rotary open space during the peak summer season are worrying, say businessmen.
According to Monga, shopkeepers are paying taxes, bills for electricity, water, garbage throughout the year but when the peak tourist season comes, outsiders impact their business. “They sell food and other items on inflated rates as they are provided space at prime locations on rent,” he adds.
There are about 6,000 shops registered with the Veopar Mandal, Shimla, of which about 2,800 to 3,000 are in the main town. Rush is there but sales are limited, says Inderjeet Singh, former president, Veopar Mandal, Shimla.