Even though the World Bank has downgraded India’s growth forecast to 6.5 per cent for the current fiscal, business activities surrounding West Bengal’s Durga Puja this year witnessed a “sharp upswing” with the estimated value of the festive transactions “crossing Rs 45,000-crore mark” after the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All stakeholders, ranging from retailers to hoteliers and restaurateurs, reported sales “more than expectations”, while puja organisers were ecstatic with the festive spirit among people.
“The trend is much better than expected. In our opinion, the puja economy in Bengal crossed the Rs 45,000-crore mark if we compare this year’s festival with that of 2019 when there was no COVID. Large-scale pujas were organised in districts this time. On average, the advertisement expenditure has increased by 45-50 per cent,” Forum For Durgotsab, an umbrella organisation of community pujas, president Kajal Sarkar told PTI.
Retailers and hoteliers experienced “30-40 per cent higher sales” in value terms during this puja period as compared to that of 2019, exceeding their expectation of around 20 per cent growth.
Westin Hotel general manager Subhas Sinha said the overall growth around the festival would be 40 per cent. “The room occupancy was 80 to 90 per cent and the restaurants were busy. The impact of the holidays will continue for a few more days,” he said.
Echoing Sinha, South Kolkata’s leading shopping mall Acropolis managing director K Vijayan told PTI, “Sales in both retail and food outlets have exceeded our expectations. These were 40 per cent higher than 2019 and the momentum will continue till Diwali.”
According to stakeholders, retail accounts for 80-85 per cent of the total Durga Puja economy, and the food and beverages sector has a share of around 7-8 per cent, while the erection of marquees, decorations, lighting, entertainment, advertising and others account for the rest.
Eastern Hotel and Restaurant Association secretary Sudesh Poddar said the actual sales during the Durga Puja festival were “better” than their estimated growth of 20-25 per cent, and the sector had seen an “increase of over 30 per cent over 2019”.
West Bengal GST commissioner Khalid Anwar said, “The state’s Goods and Services Tax revenue has been steadily increasing, and we expect that the festive months will provide even more momentum. The cumulative growth in the current fiscal is expected to be over 20 per cent.”