After a gloomy 2020 marked by the covid-19 pandemic and a drop of up to 70% in sales, Mexican flower merchants, crafts and food hope their income will revive for the Day of the Dead festivities.
The mixture of hope and anxiety is tangible this Friday in the Jamaica Market, the best-known flower shop in Mexico City, where the aisles are full of the flower of the dead, the cempasúchil, but with few clients.
“We do not know how it will be, but the truth is that business is very slow right now. We have been throwing away a lot of production for the same reason, that there are no sales ”, laments Mario Flores, one of the vendors, in an interview with Efe.
In addition to more than 3.76 million cases and 285,000 deaths, the fourth highest figure in the world in absolute numbers, the covid-19 pandemic caused a historic contraction of 8.2% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020.
Last year the pandemic forced the closure of pantheons on the Day of the Dead, so sales related to this celebration fell by 70%, according to the National Alliance of Small Merchants (ANPEC).
“Right now due to the pandemic it went down, not just this, all trade went down. In other years at this time, right now, there was a lot of sales, it was starting to sell, but right now since the pandemic is down, ”says Pedro Balderrama, one of the most veteran of the Jamaica Market.
The hope of the sellers is the mitigation of the covid-19 in Mexico, whose government predicts that the pandemic will touch “Its absolute minimum point” next week, which will coincide with the Day of the Dead festivities.
“We all hope that it will be sold because, if not, what do we do with the merchandise? But I think so because things are already calmer, ”says Mr. Balderrama.
DOES TRADITION FAIL?
The Mexican Day of the Dead, a indigenous festival with Spanish influence To honor the deceased on November 1 and 2, he has captured the world’s attention in recent years with films such as “Coco” (2017) or “James Bond: Specter” (2015).
But now the mixture of covid-19 and economic malaise has sickened tradition, according to Lorena Balderas, a young woman who offers in her position sweets, skulls, confetti, dead flowers and ornaments.
“The truth is that it is already being lost (tradition) because many people no longer buy. I do not know if for the same reason that there is no money or the tradition is already being lost, “he tells Efe.
Lorena acknowledges that sales “have decreased compared to previous years” and reminds the public that the merchants of the Jamaica Market and the craftsmen who make decorations.
In that Alexander Gutiérrez agrees, who has had a family position for five years with decorations for the altar that Mexicans put in honor of their dead, including shredded paper made by artisans from Puebla.
Unlike Lorena, she is more optimistic about the reduction in infections and the epidemiological green traffic light due to low risk of covid-19 in Mexico City, which has eliminated almost all restrictions.
“(We are going) a little better since we are getting out of this situation of the pandemic that affected us all, in all sectors. We are coming out of it, it is increasing a little bit (the sale) and we are still waiting for them to visit us, ”says Alexander.
GHOSTS OF THE ECONOMY
Although Mexico has overcome three waves of covid-19, it still faces the ghosts of the economy, as a general inflation that accumulates 6% this year.
In addition, consumption decreased 1% quarterly from July to September, BBVA Mexico reported this week.
For this reason, Mario Flores thinks that “people are already gaining confidence and are starting to come out more, but the problem is the people’s economy.”
“With this from the pandemic, many were left without work, they have no money, they were in debt, so there are certain priorities. Although, of course, the deceased will never be denied a few flowers,” he says.
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