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Thousands of people on Friday thronged the domestic and international stalls at the India International Trade Fair, which will end on November 27, but exhibitors and traders were clearly upset over low sales-volume due to the prevailing cash crunch.
Saikat, a businessman from Kolkata, said he was happy to see throngs at Pragati Maidan here two weeks after the trade fair's inauguration, but lamented that his expectations of business remained unmet.
A cash crunch has hit people across the country after the Centre's November 8 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
"This year, we face a huge setback in terms of business. Customers who wanted to buy stuff bargained a lot this time since they did not have enough cash," Saikat told IANS.
Saikat, who deals in leather goods, said he has been exhibiting products at the trade fair for five years. The fair began on November 14 but was thrown open to the public on November 19.
"Every year, we cleared a lot of stock; but this year, I have to take back more than half of my products," he griped.
"After the second week, I was happy to see a lot of visitors, but they are not actually buying anything. They are here to window-shop and pass time."
Another exhibitor Daksh Arora from Punjab, dealing in hosiery, echoed Saikat's views.
"I have recorded one-tenth of the sales I normally make at the trade fair. We understand that people with small denomination cash have rather more important things to do than shop here. Most payments to me have come through debit cards. This year, it is a major flop," Arora said.
A visitor Sana Khan, who had come in a group, said: "We are here just to while away time. Most stalls where we went to shop -- like those selling earrings, jewellery and other knick-knacks -- are accepting only cash."
"It is always fun to be here, but this year we did not do much shopping," another young girl from the same group said.