Many shoppers stepped out of their homes in the morning on Sunday in a bid to avoid the evening rush at malls and markets.
As a result, the shopping hubs were crowded from as early as noon. As the day progressed, the footfall also went up. Less than two weeks before the festive season, shoppers made the most of clear weather. Last weekend was marred by rain and clouds.
The rush continued into the night, prompting at least one mall to extend its timings.
Saibal Saha had come from Behrampore to Kolkata for Puja shopping with his daughter, Sampurna. When The Telegraph met Saha at South City Mall around 1pm, he was almost done shopping.
“We left home early and took a train to Sealdah. I came early because I wanted to avoid the evening rush. The traffic also gets worse as the day progresses. We will return tonight,” said Saha, a government school teacher.
Across shopping malls, the billing counters were busy. Almost every trial room in the South City outlet of an apparel and accessories chain had a queue around 2pm. The waiting time outside a trial room was over 20 minutes. At the billing counter, the wait often lasted close to 40 minutes, said shoppers.
In the late afternoon, cars were being parked on the South City International School ground because the mall’s parking was full. The atrium, decked out in Puja decor, was the favourite spot to take pictures.
Around 1.5km away, the Dakshinapan shopping complex was also busy. There was hardly any idling around and almost every shopper meant business.
Ruma Pal was one of them. The Budge Budge resident had come with a large group. They took a train to Ballygunge in the morning.
“This is the first stop. We have other places to go to,” said Ruma, holding a couple of bags with new saris inside.
Acropolis and Quest Mall also witnessed a steady footfall throughout the day.
“Shoppers have come in large numbers on last Sunday prior to Mahalaya to complete their Puja splurging. This weekend, we have witnessed an interesting trend in the Puja shopping pattern, as families started shopping since the opening of the mall at 11am, mostly to prevent the evening crowd in the mall,” said K. Vijayan, general manager of Acropolis Mall.
The shopping rush continued late into the night. At South City Mall, the retail outlets usually close at 9pm. “From Saturday, the stores are closing at 10.30pm to cater to the rush of shoppers,” said Biswas, deputy general manager of the mall.
The Pantaloons store at South City Mall is closing at 12.30am, he said.
A sea of people kept surging towards New Market all day. Traffic cops had to stop people with ropes at multiple points on Jawaharlal Nehru Road to make way for shoppers to reach Lindsay Street.
Unmindful of the pushing and shoving, shoppers went about their business. Suman Pandey, who works at a BPO, had come from her home in Biratito buy some accessories, belts and earrings.
“I will go to a mall to buy some clothes next,” she said.
At Gariahat, every time civic police personnel lifted the barricades, hundreds of people went from one flank of the road to another. No shop, big or small, was empty.
Hawkers called out to shoppers all along the footpaths lined with stalls.
There were at least a dozen customers inside Traders’ Assembly around 6pm. An employee at a roadside stall known for rolls was struggling to handle the rush. “We have been selling 50 rolls every 30 minutes,” he said.