By: Qasim Shabbir

Lahoris are known for two things “food and shopping”. The preparation of Eid started before the month of Ramazan especially women are being seen at shopping malls, jewellery, cosmetics and garments shops in the market. Everyone wants to look best on all 3 days of Eid. This shopping mania is at peak on the last day of Ramazan also known as “Chand Rat”.

The people are making final preparations to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with traditional zeal and fervour. Eid shopping has reached its peak as large crowds, especially women and children thronged markets and shopping malls. As Eid came closer the prices of clothing and footwear are beyond the purchasing power of a local or common man. Lahore’s famous bazaar, including ichra bazaar, anar kali bazaar, liberty market, shah alam bazaar and sacarno bazaar has gained high prices of bangles, readymade dresses, footwear’s and other items related to Eid. Moreover, Gazala perveen, a house wife and teacher by her profession, said: “shopkeepers are taking advantage of Ramazan and selling clothing and other items related to Eid with 50 % higher than normal days. For a family of 6-7 it is really difficult to buy expensive clothes.”

Special arrangements have been made in bazaars to facilitate the customers. Securities are upgraded by police at all the main bazaars. On Eid days, food business is one of the most money making businesses in Lahore as lahori’s are known for “Food and Shopping”. In the month of Ramazan near eid food stalls are being placed in the bazaar and people enjoy this food after shopping. Talking to Zia, a street vendor who was busy in selling paratha roll in liberty market, said: “we experienced 75 % increase in our profit in the month of Ramazan, so we work hard to run our kitchen and facilitate our children to celebrate the Eid in a better way.”

Hassan Sahi, a customer at Pace mall in gulberg, said: “Eid is the festival of love and joy without shopping happiness of this day is partial”. The price vary throughout the Ramazan in first ashrah prices are low as compared to third ashrah and quality provided is not reliable. The prices of clothing and other Eid related items are far away from the reach of a common man, despite of overcrowded markets during Ramazan. Mostly people or visitors only enjoy window shopping.

Moreover, makeshift stalls are not only attracting the lower class but the upper middle class as well due to low prices. “Everyone has to shop for Eid but according to their pocket as prices are already sky high,” said Bilal Khan while purchasing shoes on sale from a stall. He said that such stalls are a blessing for the poor as they are less concerned about fashion and more about price.

In developed countries, we see huge discounts on all items on the Christmas and other national festivals. If we talk about Muslim countries like Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where the ministries related to price control started preparation for the holy month of Ramazan to control the prices of various items, especially food and clothing item to make them affordable to everyone.

Is there anyone who can control price mafia in Pakistan during the holy month of Ramazan?