‘Flop show’: Traders upset as India International Mega Trade Fair casts shadow on business

- August 27, 2023
| By : Shivani Jha |

Displeased with with "disappointingly" low sales, the traders blamed the last-minute change of timing of the India International Mega Trade Fair and lack of visibility

A stall selling garments from Kashmir

The NSIC Exhibition Centre played host to the highly anticipated India International Mega Trade Fair, which is usually a crowd puller, given the variety of unique products from Indian states and countries across the globe. However, this year it did not quite bring a smile for sellers.

With more than 25000 unique products, the platform saw representation of 14 states and 11 countries, spanning an impressive 10 days from August 18 to August 28.

Organised by The Bengal Chamber and G S Marketing Associates, the fair bore witness to a striking contrast of stories, as almost all exhibitors grappled with disappointingly low sales, barring one case of success.

One of the poignant stories was that of Mohammad Abrar, a seasoned carpet seller hailing from Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. With a decade of experience in the business, Abrar shared, “We’ve been showcasing an extensive range of carpets from India and across the globe, including Turkey, Gujarat, and Iran. However, this year has been a disaster for us. Our sales have dropped, and there have been days when we were not able to sell a single piece of our stock. Last year, we sold our stock worth Rs 1,50,000, but this year it has crippled to a mere Rs 20,000”.

Iranian businessman Hazratullah, a specialist in jewellery, saffron, and bed sheet carpets, attributed to the losses to the arduous inspection process at the airport and the associated costs. “Our Iranian saffron, famous for its premium quality, performed better last year. This time, it is proving to be difficult, with the sales down by 50% percent. We also attended a few exhibitions in other parts of India like Mumbai and Kolkata, our sales were better in these places as compared to Delhi,” he added.

“In the past, we were open from 11 am to 8 pm. The timing was recently changed to 1 – 9 pm. As a result of this shift in timings, customers were confused because those who came in at 11 am expecting us to be open had to leave dissatisfied,” he said.

Two Kashmiri traders, Mohsin and Sahil, who were selling traditional Kashmiri suits and handcrafted sarees, echoed similar sentiments.

Calling it a “flop show”, they said, “Despite all our efforts, the majority of our inventory remains unsold. With the sales down by 80%, the results are undeniably disappointing, especially given the costly booth fee we had pay. Maybe it is due to the lack of advertisements and proper accessibility to the venue. Also, this is the first time that our sales are so low.”

However, there were stories of triumph. Jasprit Sethi and his wife, a spirited elderly couple, proudly shared their success as proprietors of a thriving spice business. “We had started our manufacturing factory in January this year and it has done really well. This fair acted as a catalyst to our growth,” said Sethi, emphasising that such fairs play a “vital role in the promotion” of their products.

On the other hand, Smriti, a trader from Assam, voiced her concerns about poor marketing and an unappealing location. Smriti said, “Our sales were really booming after the Covid lockdown. Maybe because people were excited to shop outside after a long time, but this year, the story is different.”

She lamented, “This year has been the worst for me. I’ve barely managed to earn Rs 10,000. The unfavourable conditions and lack of visibility at the location have significantly hit my sales. With just a few days left for the exhibition to conclude, I am still hopeful.”

Here is a peep into the Trade Fair: