New Delhi, Oct. 21 -- This year's Diwali at the Indore-based Shukla household will "not be expensive at all", declares Priya Singh Shukla, who runs a business in the city. Unlike previous festive seasons, when Shukla, for instance, bought gold bangles (in 2018) or pricey clothes, the budget is tight this year. The rolling, interminable lockdowns had temporarily shuttered her mid-sized salon in Indore for many months.

Shukla's business is down by a third, reflecting the broader trend in the beauty services industry. Her employee strength, once at 20, is now down to 12. "I've told my staff to take salary cuts," she said. Imagine, there are households that run on the business I do, says Shukla.

The cascading effect will inevitably leave an...