KARACHI (Reuters Life!) - Rising prices and unemployment have tightened the purse-strings of many Pakistanis ahead of the feast ending Ramadan, but some enterprising Pakistanis are determined to get them to spend, if only a little.
Several professionals have turned part-time vendors, setting up stalls selling items ranging from glass bangles and hair clips to clothes and shoes to cash in on a surge in shopping in the run-up to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
“If people have less money to spend they are more likely to come to us rather than go to the big shops where similar items cost much more,” said Liaqat Ali, a 37-year-old teacher, as he fixed a light bulb over his bangle stall in a middle-class neighborhood in Karachi.
Most of Ali’s fellow vendors are like him — they all have other jobs but come out every year toward the end of Ramadan to make some extra cash.
The Eid is due to fall on September 22 or September 23, depending upon when the new moon is sighted. It is the biggest holiday of the year in Pakistan when families get together and relatives and friends exchange gifts and dressed up in new clothes.
Every year, small makeshift shops and stalls spring up along the streets in Karachi, selling things at a discount compared to the bigger shops because of their lower overheads.
“When I was a student I used to sell Eid cards in the last 10 days of Ramadan but that was more for fun then necessity,” said Muhammad Haroon, a 35-year-old father-of-two who works for the city administration.
“But now it’s more out of need. A few thousands rupees earned at this time can go a long way for lower-middle-class people like me,” he said as he arranged children’s clothes at his stall.
Despite the slowing economy and rising prices, many people are out every evening in Karachi’s markets, hunting for bargains.
“This is one of the biggest festivals for us and I can’t just tell my family, especially the children, that I can’t get them new clothes and things for Eid,” said marketing executive Nadeem Qazi.
“It’s tough with expenditures growing so rapidly, but I think one has to manage that and one way is to avoid big shops and branded items and be happy with cheaper things for now,” he said.
Editing by Robert Birsel and Miral Fahmy