Lockdown due to a sharp hike in Covid-19 cases, inflation, unemployment, layoffs, changing political situation in the region, and spreading rumors about the national economy, have produced generally disappointing business activity in Muharram this year in food, beverage, and catering segments, compared to years in the past. Preparations for Muharram begin immediately after Eid, but this time business and other related activities were suspended for about ten days due to the lockdown, which led to an increase in the prices of pulses, rice, ghee, oil, and other commodities used to prepare haleem and biryani – essential food items that people distribute in Muharram. “In recent days, the import of pulses and sugar has increased significantly and pulses have been imported more than the domestic requirement, but its effect and benefit can only be seen in the wholesale market,” said a local wholesale grocery trader. “All these things are being sold to the general consumer at a higher price in the retail market. Traders are selling essential items at exorbitant prices and making up for the losses caused by the lockdown.” “Consumers are reporting that stores are less crowded than last Muharram. Demand for pulses is not strong as it used to be in past years. One of the reasons, I think, is that people have lost some buying power,” said a trader of the wholesale grocery market. Every year in Muharram, caterers and groups of people in the neighbourhood buy hundreds of tonnes of wheat, pulses, spices, beef, chicken, and cooking oil. Thousands of ‘degs’ of haleem, biryani, and other food items are distributed during and after processions and gatherings. “It’s just not about Muharram, overall demand for food commodities is low. People either don’t have money to spend or they want to save for an uncertain future,” said a rice and pulses trader. Muharram does not only generate business in the food industry but in scores of other sectors as well including those who rent out tents, chairs, tables, crockery, cloth merchants, and tailors who prepare black and other Muharram-related dresses for women and children, and black coarse cloth for making flags and banners displayed in mourning processions. A cloth shop owner told Daily Times that plain white and green colors were also in demand for making Pakistani flags due to Independence Day celebrations besides Muharram. Other than that, Non-Shia people also purchase white dresses to use for participating in mourning processions and Muharram-related activities.