Textile sector suffers a blow, yet again

Dealers in Kozhikode had stocked up for Ramzan season

The sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases across the State and the resultant lockdown have pushed textile dealers in Kozhikode to the brink, as they are facing the biggest losses in the last four to five years. The unexpected loss was the result of dealers stocking up aggressively for the Ramzan season, expecting to make amends for the loss they experienced over the last few years due to the Nipah outbreak, two floods and COVID-induced lockdown last summer.

Usually, shops remain open until early morning during the last days of the Ramzan season to accommodate last-minute shoppers. For the textile market here, it used to be the most profitable season, next only to Onam.

The COVID-19 situation had eased considerably during the months of January, February and March and the textile dealers anticipated a good Ramzan sale. “Most textile shops had purchased stocks worth crores of rupees and had even borrowed additional spaces to keep their stocks for the season. But the situation turned upside down by the end of April and most textile shop owners are now drowning in debt,” said K. Sethumadhavan, district general secretary of the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi.

The merchants are in various stages of liability. Some have suppliers calling them relentlessly for payment while some are being troubled by loan sharks. “A large number of merchants are on the verge of suicide,” said Arshad Abdulla, head of a prominent textile house in Kozhikode.

The Samithi had appealed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier this month to allow textile and footwear shops to open for a few days in accordance with the COVID-19 protocol. But the Chief Minister was not ready to take the risk. The dealers have appealed again to allow textile and footwear shops to remain open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the two last days of Ramzan. “If we get the last two days, we will be able to cut down the loss by at least 10%,” said Mr. Sethumadhavan.

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