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Channy Sookraj-Boodram tears up at her stall as she recalls how she was robbed and also the slow sales for Divali, along the SS Erin Road, Debe.

Hardtimes caused by job loss and COVID-19 has caused many families to scale back on their Divali celebrations.

Apart from abysmal deya sales, the prices of produce skyrocketed, prompting some people to cut back on the array of East Indian dishes that they usually cook at Divali time.

In an interview with Guardian Media, deya retailer Channy Sookraj-Boodram said she spent $12,000 on deyas, wicks, oil and other goods to resell but has yet to make back her capital investment or a profit.

“If I sell $200 for the day, its plenty. To make matters worse, I got robbed of $300 a few days ago,” she said.

Wiping away tears, Sookraj-Boodram said the robbers have left her scarred.

“It really hard to be out from 5 am and lose everything. I working hard to make an honest dollar. Why other people cant do the same,” she said. She added that a man who begs near her stall walks away with more money than her.

Sookraj-Boodram said the cheaper, smaller deyas which she sold for $7 has sold out but she still had 10,000 medium-sized deyas which is being sold for $10 a dozen. The largest deyas were sold for $20.

Lower down SS Erin Road, a retailer sold small deyas for $8 a dozen.

“The cheaper deyas are definitely selling for less,” he said.

The usual pre-Divali rush seen at retailer outlets in Debe and Penal was absent this year.

Some customers said they shopped around for the better price.

Cindy Deodath of Claxton Bay said, “We heard that deyas in Debe was selling cheaper than anywhere else so we came to buy.”

She said they had scaled down on the celebrations this year, lighting less deyas.

Sookdaye Pooransingh also said many people were not ordering delicacies as they used to do in years gone by.

“People are trying to save as much money as they are making their own sweets,” Pooransingh said.

Even the prices of some produce sold much more expensive when compared to last week. Tomatoes sold for $20 a pound while ginger sold for $16 a pound.

Dhanraj Chattergoon who was seen buying deyas said the job loss had left many families facing an uncertain future.

“Judging by the environment, everything is slow. You don’t know what is going to happen next so everyone is living on a day to day basis and we don’t know how it is going to affect us. Yes, we know the economy is bad and we now have health, that is also an issue now,” Chattergoon said.

Meanwhile, some market vendors said they have been forced to cut down their prices because of poor sales.

Madan Ramjeawan said he sold chatagne $20 for one pound, compared to $25 last year.

“Things hard so we tried to help by selling the lowest price,” he said. Drake Ali said many people had lost their jobs but he still wished everyone a happy Divali despite their economic constraints.