THE 'CHANGE' SENDS MITHAI SALES SKYROCKETING

Sales increases of upto 500 per cent recorded

BY M.K. AREOLA
Nov 09 - 15, 1996

By noon on 'D-day' the news had spread all over the country causing two different reactions all over. Some were unhappy and could not even take their meal while others were happy and took to the streets, this time not to demonstrate but to distribute sweets as a token of their happiness.

In Defence Housing Authority Phase V, Amir Ali came down to the ground floor from his bedroom for the newspapers, something of a ritual for him but was surprised to find that the newspaper was not on the table where his servant normally placed it everyday. However, before he could call the servant for an explanation for the missing newspaper the servant came in with the news that the federal government had been removed. Amir Ali then sent for fifty kilogrammes of sweets which cost Rs 4,500.

Receiving the news of change of government with happiness did not end with Amir Ali alone. All over the city sweets outlets commonly known as 'mithai' shops had a field day by way of sales on the day the government of Benazir Bhutto was dismissed.

PAGE Consumer Finance (PCF) went around the city to witness the people's reaction to the news. The first stop was the famous sweets shop (name withheld upon request) located off main Clifton Road. The outlet sells an average of 200 Kilogrammes of 'mithai' everyday but sold more than 900 kilogrammes on 'D-day', an increase of 450%.

People were seen distributing 'mithai' on the main Gizri bus stop in the morning as soon as news of the event reached them and there was a long queues of customers waiting to buy sweets were witnessed in most of the outlets visited.

Likewise, most of the outlets located in DHA reported sale increases of between 100 and 150% in one day only. Increase in sales in the outlets along Share-a-Faisal, Nursery Market ranged between 50% and 100% while those of the three outlets along Burns Road including the famous 'Fresco Sweets' ranged between 200% and 300%.

Sources told PCF that most of the offices along I.I.Chundrigar Road including the ones within the premises of Karachi Stock Exchange started distributing sweets as soon as news of the change of government reach them in the morning and continued till the next day.

Within the premises of 'Awami Markaz' in Karachi, some of shopkeepers volunteered and collected donations from all the outlets in the afternoon and almost all visitors to the huge shopping centre had, around seven o'clock, a taste of both mithai and toffees on the auspicious occasion "a new outlet is being opened," said one of the boys distributing the sweets at the main entrance of the Markaz.

Likewise, in Shah Faisal Colony the mood was festive. There were stalls set up along the road for distribution of 'mithai' and sweets. Most of the 'mithai' outlets in the Central and West districts of the city reported sales increases of upto 500%. There were reports of distribution of mithai house-to-house in Liaquatabad, Federal-B-Area, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad as well as North Karachi on the occassion.

Most of the MQM areas wore a festive look throughout the day with sweets being distributed and joyous songs being played and sung by both the youth and the elders alike and the sound of firecrackers reverberating in the surrounds.

Based on the average sales of each of the outlets visited by PCF, the city of Karachi alone consumed more than 4.5 tons of 'mithai', at the average rate of Rs 75 per Kilogramme, on the day the government of the third republic after Zia left the scene. The highest sales among the 'mithai' varieties were those of 'gulab jaman' followed by 'rasgullas' and 'chamcham', others included balushai, imarti, peras and halwa sohan.

Not only did the sales of 'mithai' reach its highest crest in years, increased sales of sweets and toffees too were reported from various parts of the city.

"People here are educated and understanding", said one of the 'mithai' shops in Mohammad Ali Society, a residential locality opposite Awami Markaz, when queried why sales of 'mithai' in the area were low as compared to other areas of the city.

Other areas where there was lesser enthusiasm about the dismissal of the prime minister were the Lyari area and Manghopir Road where there was no celebration at all.