By Team B&C
A sure sign of approaching monsoons in Goa is the transformation of cobblers around the city. Until May-end, cobblers are busy in their corner stalls fixing shoe uppers and repairing heels. But the first drop of rain sees them changing profession discretely. Almost overnight the traditional ‘mochis’ turn into umbrella repairers and get down to dexterously tackling a bent rod or a jammed umbrella.
Local cobblers are not the only sign of monsoon retailing. Another early symbol of rainy trade is the plastic sheet seller who briskly set up stall in the Panaji market. The vendor operates for a set period of three-four weeks as sales peak few days ahead of rains and taper off when the showers are too strong.
Ground level checks reveal that monsoon merchandise in Goa is focused around rainywear, raincoats, umbrella, shoes and jackets. Rainy clothes are no different from everyday clothes says a shopkeeper at 18th June Road, Panaji, adding that sales of all apparel are slow during the peak months of June-August. The thrust of commerce, he says, is in raincoats and umbrellas as they are items that due to wear and tear need to be replaced regularly.
Sales of raincoats and umbrellas are flop this year, says Milind Manerkar, because of the unusual dry spell witnessed during the month of June. The market is just picking up, he points out, although a full month of poor sales means that many shopkeepers are going to go be disappointed in meeting targets, says Manerkar.
The worst affected are the small shopkeepers in the market who put up temporary stalls and buy goods in consignment from stockists. Overall, Manerkar expects sale of raincoats and umbrellas to be at least 25 per cent lower compared to the previous year. Seller Javed Sheikh in Panaji market agrees. His business was a failure in the previous month although it is picking up now with customers coming in for purchase.
Top selling this season, says Sheikh, are the single shade, transparent looking, Chinese umbrellas that are quite attractive to look at. The umbrellas sell for Rs 99 and looks like it will give away even while the monsoons are ongoing but people prefer them, says Sheikh.
Meanwhile, coming to raincoats and mackintosh, all-India sale of raincoats are significantly lower than umbrellas but in Goa they are only slightly lower perhaps because of the copious rains. The early buyers of rainy wear, point out shopkeepers, are the school kids who outgrow their old coats. The children segment of the market is concentrated in the month of June while subsequent months see all kinds of customers. Prices of goods, they explain, have not been increased substantially and a good gents mac could cost around Rs 300 or little lesser if successful in bargaining.
Coming back to the cobbler who has switched profession to umbrella repairer, business is truly bleak, says Rajan Naik who sits outside the Education Department along 18th June Road. The advent of cheap, use and discard umbrellas means that business is slow and dropping by the day, says Naik. In the future, he is sure that mending of umbrellas will go out of fashion altogether especially as the modern, three-fold umbrella is difficult to repair. In case of rain footwear, store owners point out that the market is flooded with recycled plastic flip-flops which while quite eye-catching are useless while wading through the waters as they get slippery and lack grip. Maximum sales are for shoes in varying colours and in the price range of Rs 150-Rs 250.
By Team B&C