Moving bag and baggage not easy

The process of shifting house has always been hectic, but the logistics have become a nightmare during the pandemic. Packers and movers are having as tough a time as their customers

The pandemic has seen a lot of shifting of both skilled and unskilled migrant workers across the country. A lot of white collar professionals across cities have also left for their home towns, leaving rented spaces behind, since offices are shut.

The shifting of possessions is always a hectic process, the matter has only worsened during the pandemic.

Overpricing, less options, delayed bookings — the ordeals of packing and moving have been plenty for Shynee Ghosh, who shifted from Mumbai to Delhi in July. With her lease getting over, she had no other option but to look for a different apartment. When she had no luck in finding a suitable one, she decided to return home to Delhi.

“Living away from family for over six years now, I have moved from one city to another and changed apartments quite a few times. While the process is taxing, it has never been this complicated,” shares Ghosh.

The complications started with her own apartment society who wouldn’t permit the entry of packers and movers in the building. After multiple calls, emails and requests, she managed to get a window of two hours in the afternoon for her shifting work.

Ghosh was unprepared for what followed next. While many of the packers and movers refused to provide service in her region, the few others who agreed did not have any available slots according to her preference.

“With no other option, I had asked for an extension of my stay from my landlord and had to pay extra rent for nothing. Adding to this the fee charged by the packers and movers was also skyhigh. Each quoted a price higher than the other,” she shares.

Paying almost double of what she usually pays, she finally managed to move her goods. Not just double the price, it also took double the time for her to finally receive her stuff in Delhi.

Ghosh is not the only one. A study by Sulekha, an online platform for expert services, has shown that packers and movers ranked second among the top three services searched by people during lockdown.

While the fear of contracting the virus was high during the earlier days of lockdown, packers and movers companies have seen a decline in booking // Credit: Facebook

Another factor that stood out was the fear of getting the virus, as packing and moving involves interaction with outsiders. While finding houses in the current situation is a task in itself, the struggle didn’t end there for Swati, who lives with her family.

“It was mentally harrowing for me to organise and get everything together, keeping in mind that I live with my old parents. Keeping the interactions to the minimum was one of my main concerns,” shares Swati, a resident of the city, who moved to another apartment in Noida. The charges were also quite “unreasonably steep” but she was quite helpless.

While the fear of contracting the virus was high during the earlier days of lockdown, packers and mover companies have seen a decline in booking. According to reports, normally March 21 marks the commencement of the busiest period of packing and moving, which continues till July mid-week. However this year, they have seen their market freezing as movement of vehicles was restricted.

For Agarwal Packers and Movers, who are extremely busy these days, the scene has gradually improved. One of the biggest chains of packers and movers, starting from May business picked up by 10%, and another 50% in June. By July it had risen sharply by 68% and August has seen a growth of 81%.

According to the trends observed by them, people shifting locally during this pandemic constitutes 40% and outstation stands at 60%.

Sharing that the scene has totally changed during this pandemic, a spokesperson from the company says, “It is only innovators that can survive in the market and Agarwal Packers and Movers and other organised companies get the benefits of this change. However, the main constraint from our side is the employees who left for their native places and are unable to join their duties. Commercial transportation is also not up to the mark.”

Sharma Movers and Packers from Mumbai also share the same issue. The lack of adequate transportation has delayed their shipments and hence they are unable to share the dates of delivery with their customers.

However, once the pandemic is over, the business of packing and moving is bound to see another upsurge, as people return to their jobs or get new ones.

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