Ancillary industries, such as hardware, paint and sanitaryware shops have also been affected.
Shiva Reddy, proprietor of Sri Vijaya Sai Agencies, says monthly sales had dipped to Rs 1 lakh in 2011 from Rs 3-4 lakh a year ago.
Things have now started looking up with sales climbing to Rs 2 lakh a month.
"But now my customers are individuals who bargain hard, whereas earlier, I used to sell in bulk to realty developers," says Reddy.
To stay afloat, entrepreneurs have been forced to cut costs by letting go of employees.
Manidas, the proprietor of Geetha Stores strategically situated right opposite the ashram entrance, says he now employs four people instead of eight. And he runs his taxi service with two cars instead of three.
"Things started improving from last June but the people coming now are those who've been devotees for a long time," he says.
In the local branch of a public sector bank, a manager says defaults have been on the rise.
Pointing to a customer outside his cabin, he says: "He took a loan from the bank and he has Rs 1.5 lakh outstanding but the value of his vehicle is now just Rs 50000. So we're trying to work out some sort of compromise."
The bank, he says, granted 70 three-wheeler loans in two years. Loan sanctions have dipped to a couple a month from 8 to 10 two years ago.
"In deposits, we are in decline," he adds.
The manager of another public-sector bank says daily transactions have now dipped by around 30 per cent.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and wife Anjali seen paying their last respects to Sri Sathya Sai Baba at Puttaparthi in this file photo.