ISLAMABAD - As Eid-ul-Fitr draws closer, almost all shopping centres can be seen bustling with people buying clothes, shoes and other accessories to prepare for the religious festival but there is little to celebrate for the low income class and the poor as inflation has reduced their buying power and things getting out of their financial reach.

Everyone is seen complaining of inflation, especially women who are economic managers of household, saying prices were bordering on the exorbitant. “With the sky-high prices, it’s difficult to purchase anything. There’s so much we have to buy but most of the household budget goes to kitchen items and little is left to buy anything else,” complained Irum, a housewife.

“Our budget is limited. In the past, people used to feel happy about shopping ahead of Eid but now they come to markets with a lot of tension,” remarked Amna Zaman, a workingwoman who was shopping in Abbara Market.

The prices of garment items have gone up unexpectedly and it’s mostly a problem of the middle class. The government has left everything on free market, at least there should be a monitoring system or some kind of check on the price increase so that things do not get out of reach for the poor, she maintained. 

Another workingwoman, Aisha, who works in a government department while shopping at Rabi Center, Rawalpindi, said that prices have increased too much as compared to last year due to inflation and Eid too. “I have bought a shirt of Rs.1500 for me which I had bought for Rs 800 last year. And for my son who is three-year-old I purchased a suit for Rs 1000 that I used to buy for Rs 800,” she explained.

She added that she has not bought shoes yet for her son. “My sister has bought shoes for her two sons for Rs 1500 and Rs 1300 that are too much expensive for four-year-old and five-year-old children,” she said.

Women not only complain regarding increase in prices of food items and garments but the increase in the prices of cosmetics and in beauty salon rates are also worrisome for them. Ramsha, a visitor to a famous beauty salon at G-11 Markaz told this scribe, “I have come here for facial or cleansing to avoid any facial skin related issues. But I wonder that the rates of the parlor have been increasing with each passing day. Two months ago I paid Rs.600 for facial but now its rates have increased to Rs.800-850,” she complained.

She was of the view that rates are comparatively cheap in Karachi and prices are less there as compared to Islamabad so she did shopping from Karachi during her visit to Karachi one-and-a-half months ago.

The shop owners are also not satisfied either; they say sales are not up to the mark. They pass on the blame to the government for energy crises and security concerns that have forced the industries to shut down or limit their operations. An owner of a shop at Abpara Market informed that they have not been getting new supply and selling their previous stocks.

The families who barley managing to make both ends meet, Eid day is no different for them as it does not bring anything for them.  Shakila, who works as a maid and lives in a rural area of Bara Kahu with her six brothers and sisters said, she would wear old cloths given by the owners where she works. They may give her some extra money on Eid ‘but I will have to work for that first. That’s how my Eid passes’ said the 12-year-old Shakila.