HSR LAYOUT, Bengaluru: It was meant to be a pollution-free day as HSR-Layout, one of Bengaluru’s most sought after residential areas observed Open Street Day on Sunday. What it simply meant was that residents were discouraged from driving four-wheelers and two-wheelers through the area. In return, they were to get fresh air, traffic jam-free roads and ample public spaces to relax and rejoice.
While it may have been a Sunday with a difference, for businesses in this locality, it was a bad day. Customer counts nose-dived and cash registers did not ring. Though people were hopping into restaurants for a bite, the count still didn’t reach the normal mark. Ditto for stalls selling perishable goods like vegetables, fruits and fish.
“Normally, we earn about Rs 1.2 lakh on any Sunday. But today it’s just Rs 40,000. The initiative is good but it’s affecting business a lot”, said Gaurav Sharma, manager of Dunkin’ Doughnuts in HSR Layout. Similar was the case of Subway where manager Vijay said: “We collect Rs 30,000 during lunch hour, but today we collected only Rs 7,000. We can’t do home deliveries. Home deliveries fetch us sales of Rs 15,000.” However, a few outlets obviously did some planning to meet the challenge posed by vehicle-free roads. Mc Donald’s had tied up with Pro-Runners who did home deliveries by bicycles.
On the other side, customers also faced problems as they could not get food delivered to their door steps. But since it was a day of no traffic, they could go out and eat without having to wait in snaking queues. Most people had stored groceries and food items in anticipation of Open Street Day.
Like Mc Donald’s, online delivery store Grofers were operating using bicycles. However, it became difficult for the delivery boys to carry the goods and reach on time. For brisk and mortar stores, the knock was seemingly unbearable. M.K Retail off 27th Main road lost 75% of their business on open street day. The vegetable shops in and around the BDA complex faced the same trouble. Mr. Altab, who runs his vegetable store outside MK Ahmed, another retail store, was not able to get his supplies worth Rs 40,000 as the police didn’t let the truck enter the area. “There is not much to offer to customers today. They chose the main business day to hold this,” He said. Iqbal Basha of HSR Fresh Fish suffered a loss of Rs 23,000. He said: “Nothing good comes for free.” Asked about how often this should happen, manager of the Lakme salon in the vicinity said, “Once in three months and definitely not on Sundays. Not even a single customer came in today.” Though almost every business entity suffered losses, they were supportive of the initiative.
The business losses for the day may have gone into lakhs of rupees. No one dared to count. But, one thing was clear: even fresh air comes for a price.
– KHUSHBOO ANEJA