Curious Case of Buyer Interest: Demand for Wedding Outfits Boom in Delhi Amid Covid But Footwear Shops Suffer

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Diwali is fast approaching and the wedding season has kicked in, amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the national capital, while orders for lehengas, bridal gowns, suits and sherwanis are skyrocketing, the demand for footwear and wedding cards continue to remain sluggish.

Bride-to-be Lekha Kumar, 28, whose marriage is scheduled for the month of November said while she was limiting the number of guests, she could not compromise on certain things like outfits.

"I have just bought an engagement gown and a reception dress. People advised me not to go to Chandni Chowk but I assured them that I would take all precautions," she said.

From lehengas and kurtas to sarees and suits, the special embroideries and embellishments of the outfits are in high demand.

Sachin Goel, 43, who owns a wedding store in Chandni Chowk said his business was booming. "We are almost back at pre-lockdown business. I only deal with lehengas for brides and sherwanis for grooms, and they are ready to spend as much as they can," he said.

He has just finished all his bookings for November and is currently getting bookings for the months of January and February.

However, a store manager at Chawri Bazar shares a completely different sentiment.

Ravinder Gupta, a wedding cards printer who has been in the business for 25 years said that only 10-15 per cent of the pre-covid demand was back. "It is not picking up. People are choosing to send invitations through social networking platforms," he said.

When it comes to the footwear business, Delhi's Ballimaran not only owes its fame to Mirza Ghalib but is also said to be India's biggest and oldest market for the commodity.

Rashid Rehman, who runs an ancestral footwear business in Ballimaran, said, "Things are still uncertain. Our business has changed. The footfall is tepid. To my surprise, customers are ready to buy shoes online without even trying them on."

"Digital is getting more traction. Demand for footwear has simply refused to come back as the fear hasn’t gone away," he said. More than 50 per cent of Rehman's business has been affected.

However, the businessman said Diwali had led to some improvement in sales. "But we don't know how long it will sustain. We are still not sure whether we need to keep more inventory because this is uncertain," he said.

The demand for formal footwear has not revived; this is since most schools in Delhi/NCR remain shut and offices continue to adopt work from home policy in most cases.