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Companies keep off the cards table this Diwali

This year, several big playing card suppliers and manufacturers from different cities said sales are down up to 40% compared to last year.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 20, 2019, 07.20 AM IST
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BCCL
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Even die-hard players of night-long teen patti (the most popular pre-Diwali card game) said spirits are down.
NEW DELHI: The cards are on the table — this Diwali, there will be fewer cardplaying parties. The joker in the pack is the economic slowdown. Corporate gifting of card packs is down. So is card players’ appetite for playing with money stakes.

Sale of playing cards typically jumps before Diwali. This year, several big playing card suppliers and manufacturers from different cities said sales are down up to 40% compared to last year.

That’s a big downer. Card manufacturers and sellers said almost 40% of their annual business comes during Diwali. Peak business season for playing cards starts about two weeks before Ganesh Chaturthi and goes on until Diwali.

“This year it has been bad right from Ganesh Chaturthi,” said Vicky Punjabi, owner of Veekay Playing Cards in Mumbai. He said business was down 40% this season. Delhi-based manufacturer AIPH said it has cut production of playing cards by 35% in the past four months as corporate orders and other bulk purchase orders have fallen. There are only 10-15 enquiries aday from companies and wholesalers this year compared to 200-250 a day in 2018, said AIPH owner Kunal Kapoor.

Until last year, Kapoor’s firm got orders from companies like United Spirits and McDowell. Both liquor companies in previous years ordered around 600,000 decks each for promotions and corporate gifting. “There is hardly any corporate gifting order happening this year,” Kapoor said.

Niraj Bathija, proprietor of a Mumbai-based cards manufacturer Manisha Enterprises, said big corporate clients like liquor, cement and FMCG companies have reduced orders.

‘People in No Mood to Spend
“If you ask me bulk orders are down 50-70%,” Bathija said. “People are in no mood to spend and they don’t want to gamble.” Bharat Valecha, director of TM Printers Pvt Ltd, echoed Bathija’s views on punters’ lack of enthusiasm. He said business is estimated to have seen 15-17% drop this Diwali.

Even die-hard players of night-long teen patti (the most popular pre-Diwali card game) said spirits are down. “These parties used to start 45 days before Diwali and now most people are not willing to play and there is much less fervour than last year,” said an avid card player. “Regular gamblers also are not willing to play.” A company executive who is an another regular in pre-Diwali card game circuits said: “By now I would have attended four or five (pre-Diwali) parties. As of now, nobody seems to be interested this year.”

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