Five bouquets with red roses are perched on the counter of a small flower shop, nestled on the edge of a church in a suburban neighbourhood in Mumbai's Santacruz area on a quiet Thursday evening. Raju, the florist, stands beaming behind the flowers as one approaches. The dark red roses seem to have lost their vibrancy after having remained untouched by customers all day, but Raju's smile is still exuberant. He begins assembling a fresh bouquet with roses and gerberas promptly without trying to promote the unsold bouquets.
"Customers are few, but they should be satisfied, flowers should make people happy," says Raju, the florist manning the flower shop. "Business is not as good these days. I am struggling to pay rent for this shop. A birthday or a retirement party in the neighbourhood is mostly what I rely on for some income. But, I’m confident things will get better," he optimistically adds.
Raju is not the only florist struggling in the aftermath of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. While several industries are reeling from the impact of the pandemic, the fresh flower business has taken a massive hit. The novel coronavirus has not taken kindly to a market that involves perishable products and rely broadly on events, weddings and the hospitality industry for bulk of the business. As COVID-19 fears rule out the possibility of large-scale events -- both personal and corporate -- for the foreseeable future and with hotels crawling back to normalcy, flower wholesalers and retailers grapple with low demand, wastage due to the low shelf life of the flowers and disruptions in supply due to movement restrictions among other uncertainties.