The end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, marks a period of celebration and spending for many in Pakistan. However, this year’s festivities have been overshadowed by the country’s highest inflation levels in decades, leaving many small businesses struggling to stay afloat. With year-on-year inflation hitting 35.4% in March and food prices surging by more than 47% in 12 months, many shopkeepers fear they won’t even make enough to pay their monthly rent. In this dire economic climate, the normally vibrant markets across the country have seen significantly fewer shoppers compared to previous years.
Pakistan’s economy has been severely damaged by years of financial mismanagement and political instability. A global energy crisis and devastating floods last year only worsened the situation, leaving the country in need of a $6.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund to avoid default. With the country deeply in debt, tough reforms are needed to unlock the tranche of funds.
For many Pakistanis, the Eidul Fitr holiday, which follows the end of Ramadan, is a time for feasting with relatives and friends, exchanging gifts, and dressing up in new clothes and shoes. However, the skyrocketing prices have left a somber mood across the country’s usually vibrant markets. Traders and shopkeepers, who are normally able to earn enough for the entire year during Eid, have seen a significant drop in sales this year.
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Many Pakistanis are finding it hard to make ends meet during the Eidul Fitr holiday. Mothers like Fatima Azhar Mehmood are forced to shop for their children while also buying things for the house. To save money, Fatima went shopping for fabric in the Old Lahore district and plans to home-stitch her daughters’ holiday outfits. Shocked at the prices of goods this year, Amna Asim decided that only the children in her household would receive gifts this year, with adult relatives going without.
Overall, the dire economic straits have put a damper on this year’s Eid celebrations in Pakistan. Major shopping districts have reported significantly fewer shoppers compared to previous years, with many small businesses struggling to stay afloat. Despite the challenges, Pakistanis remain hopeful that things will improve, and that they will be able to celebrate Eid with the usual joy and merriment in years to come.