Lhakpa Quendren | Gelephu

Due to a shortage of customers, many establishments, particularly small enterprises in Gelephu town, are mostly seen shuttered. 

As companies struggle to stay afloat, some 80 shops in Gelephu’s main town alone remain closed throughout the day, while others that are open make only modest profit margins.

Except for pubs, restaurants, and a few hotels, other businesses such as grocery and clothing close as early as 6pm, with the majority of those remaining leaving by 8:30pm.

Roshan Khati, a small business owner of groceries and booze in Gelephu town, thinks his company is in jeopardy. “We don’t get many customers, and our income is insufficient to cover our actual expenses.”

Customers, he said, are gradually disappearing. “An increasing number of Bhutanese are visiting Indian towns. Even for a difference of Nu 5, our Bhutanese go for shopping outside.”

Because of the heat in the summer, only a few people visit the town during the day, with more visitors arriving in the afternoon and evening.

Ranina Gurung, a 33-year-old businesswoman, said she barely makes enough money to cover her rent. “I used to have the rent ready before it was due. Now I’m worried about not being able to pay the rent when the month ends.”

Another shopkeeper, Sonam Choden, said, “I get only about three customers a day. Sometimes I have to close the shop without even one customer.”

People complain that everything is becoming more costly in Gelephu, noting the fact that a Lipton iced tea which costs Nu 50 in the enterprise now costs Nu 60 at the shops on the outskirts of town and Nu 70 to Nu 80 in Tashiling and Rabteyling.