Three Sundays before Puja, shoppers flooded malls and markets in the city.
The Met office had issued a heavy rain alert for Sunday. But the sky was mostly clear and shoppers made the most of the weather.
Around 7pm, there was a long queue outside the gates of Quest Mall in Beckbagan in south Kolkata. Inside, the stores were buzzing.
Arpit Singh, 34, came out of the store of an American fashion brand with three bags.
“Last Puja was gloomy. Cases were on the rise, some of my near and dear ones were affected and I stayed mostly indoors. This time, I want to make the most of the festive season,” said the Ballygunge resident, who works at an FMCG company.
Store executives said the buying pattern had also changed from last year.
“People bought much less last year, even for children. But this time, bulk buying is back,” said an employee of a kidswear store.
A couple of hours earlier, South City Mall was packed to the hilt. So much so that people had to wait even to climb an escalator.
The car parking was full by 3.30pm, said a mall official. Many cars had to be accommodated on the sprawling compound outside the gates. Scores of cars were parked on the roof, too.
“We have had at least 4,500 cars and over 70,000 visitors,” the mall official said around 9pm, an hour still left before the closing time.
The number was around 60,000 last Sunday, he said.
The trial rooms of stores were always occupied and cash counters had long queues.
Chinangshuk Nayek, an administrator of a private engineering college on the eastern fringes of Kolkata, had come with his wife and nine-year-old son.
“This is the second successive Sunday that we spent shopping,” said wife Mayuri, a homemaker. Their son, Diptangshu, was doubly excited.
“We are going on a trip just after the Puja,” he said.
A mother and daughter had come all the way from Bandel, around 60km away.
Upasana Majumder, a Class X student of Auxilium Convent School, stepped out of the store of a Spanish fast fashion brand, her hands full.
The two were accompanied by Arnab Chakraborty, Upasana’s cousin from Jadavpur. “We are not done yet,” said Upasana. “The drive was tedious but we want to make the most of the day,” said Upasana’s mother Shreya Majumder, an advocate.
Acropolis Mall in Kasba registered a footfall of over 35,000 this Sunday, compared to 25,000 last Sunday, said a mall official. The markets in Gariahat in the south, Hatibagan in the north and New Market in central Kolkata teemed with shoppers, too.
The crowd on the pavements of Gariahat seemed unmindful of the pushing and nudging. “We came here for shoes and bags. The next round, that of clothes, is for the coming weekend,” said Tina Dasgupta.