Coimbatore: Face masks featuring seem to have become the flavour of the season with poll campaigns gathering momentum.
Garment units, which have been busy bringing out t-shirts, caps and flags for political parties ahead of the assembly election, have seized the opportunity to make designer face masks. While some of them are expecting bulk orders in the coming week, others, especially those in Tirupur, are a worried lot, as they have been losing many bulk orders with poll officials seizing the consignment and delaying the release.
Jaikumar, owner of Gandhiji Khadhar store at Town Hall in the city, said they had started making face masks with the symbols of political parties about three months ago, as they were sure that the government would strictly implement the face mask etiquette during the campaign as part of Covid-19 precautionary measures.
“We have produced nearly 50,000 masks so far. While there is a 30%-40% dip in the sale of t-shirts, shawls and badges with party symbols this time compared to the parliamentary election outing, there is a huge demand for masks,” he said.
While Jaikumar’s store managed to sell only 15,000 face masks until the last week, the sale has now shot up by 50%. His brother Balakumar said, “As the campaign will become intense in the coming days, we are receiving bulk orders, which are likely to pour in for a while. We are in the process of producing another 50,000 face masks.”
B Karthikeyan, a businessman from Tirupur, said there was a dip in the order after the announcement of election date. He attributed the dull business to seizure of goods by poll officials while transporting them for delivery. “It takes them at least two to three days to release the goods. By then, we would have missed the deadline for delivery and customers end up cancelling the order. I have lost orders for 25,000 face masks already.”
Karthikeyan had been making face masks with party symbols since September. Explaining that the cost of a mask or t-shirt would be less when purchased in bulk, he said, “Poll officials often calculate the value at market rate, shooting the candidate’s election expenditures up. As it causes trouble for the candidates, they have stopped placing orders.”
Unlike the previous elections, Karthikeyan said, this time the duration between the announcement of election date and the poll day was less. “This alone has affected the business by 30%.”