Hit by pandemic, traders switch to ‘kirana’ stores : The Tribune India

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Hit by pandemic, traders switch to ‘kirana’ stores

Left with no choice, fabric, hardware retailers opening grocery shops to eke out living

Hit by pandemic, traders switch to ‘kirana’ stores

Grocery store owners did a brisk business during the lockdown. File



Vijay C Roy

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3

Dealing in fabric retail business for the past 45 years, Ludhiana’s Opesh Gupta had never seen a slump in the business that he witnessed during the Covid pandemic. Left with no choice, he diversified and opened a departmental store dealing in dry fruit and spices two months back, seeing a surge in the demand for these products.

Opesh is not a lone example. Many traders in Punjab and Chandigarh have already diversified and opened ‘kirana’ stores. Amid the pandemic, except for grocery, medicine and vegetables, the demand for other merchandise came to a standstill. So, many of them either closed down their businesses or are on the verge of shutting them down.

Besides dealing with items of daily need and being less labour-intensive, it’s the margin hovering between five and 25 per cent (depending upon the product) which is propelling the growth of ‘kirana’ stores.

According to estimates, many such stores have already come up and hundreds of departmental stores are in the offing in Chandigarh and Punjab.

“We were dealing in fabric, suits and saris. Like other sectors, we were also affected as the demand for these items came to a standstill during the lockdown. Sensing an opportunity in dry fruit and spices, we diversified into the segment two months back,” Opesh Gupta said.

Similarly, Satish Gupta from Ludhiana closed his hardware manufacturing unit and opened a departmental store dealing in healthcare products as there were many takers for health-related products such as immunity boosters.

Chandigarh-based Aamit Goyal, who runs a software firm, opened a departmental store at Aerocity in Mohali.

“Our departmental store was scheduled to be operational by the end of this year. However, amid a surge in the demand for groceries, we expedited the project and opened it in July,” Goyal said.

“It’s an open secret that during the pandemic, only two businesses did well. One was the local ‘kirana’ stores and the other was the chemist shops. We receive queries from small businesses almost on a daily basis expressing their keenness to shift to food or grocery-related products as there is a lot of hassle in opening a chemist shop because of the need to get regulatory approvals,” said the president of the Confederation of All India Traders, Punjab Chapter.


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