The outlook for florists in the city is thorny, at least for the next few months, given that there are no weddings planned till December, temples across the city remain shut and most importantly, labourers have returned to their hometowns.
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has caused flower markets to wither away. "We are left with no other option but to suffer. I think business will not be normal for the next six months," said Shaktivel Yogeshwar, owner of Padma Florist in Chembur.
"We mostly rely on temples and weddings for better business but this pandemic and lockdown has brought everything to a standstill. The temples are shut and thus there is no one visiting, no one to buy garlands from us," Yogeshwar added.
While they continue to supply flowers and garlands to temples, they are only doing so once a day, Yogeshwar explained. Even if the temples are allowed to remain open, there won't be much business, he felt. "Because our customers aren't ready to purchase garlands and flowers at the new rates. We are forced to sell flowers at hiked rates, since supply is affected," he said.
"Earlier, we would get flowers directly from farmers but now, we have to go the farms and get the produce. This is an extra expense for us and so we are compelled to hike the rates. But unfortunately, customers aren't ready to buy," he added.
Apart from temples, the absence of wedding celebrations has struck another blow. "I think there won't be proper weddings till December. So till then, we will not have proper business. As of now, only low-key weddings are taking place, with fewer decorations, so there is less demand for flowers," said Rahul Jadhav, a florist from Matunga.
With most of the labourers having left Mumbai, staff shortage is another issue florists are facing. "All of my workers have gone home. We have roped in family members to chip in with some of the workers' tasks," said Yogeshwar, adding, "apart from all this, there has been a change in the attitude of customers."
"But even customers cannot be blamed, they too are strapped for cash, with most of them sitting at home with no work or probably half their salaries," said Jadhav.
It will be a while before business is blooming, florists have accepted. "We see a dark future as of now. However, things would be clearer after June and July. We just hope business gets back on track after these months, as the festive season is about to commence," Yogeshwar said.
"But if things continue to be the same, sales will be low even during Ganeshotsav, Navratri and Diwali," he observed.