Mom-and-pop stores feel the pinch of lockdown

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on April 07, 2020 Published on April 07, 2020

File photo   -  REUTERS

Prices of cereals and pulses have gone up by 5-15 per cent in different parts of Hyderabad

With 10 more days to go to lift the lockdown, thousands of unorganised kirana stores, or mom-and-pop grocery stories, are reporting dwindling supplies from distributors. As stocks are getting depleted, kirana store owners are saddled with only cereals and pulses, with empty racks staring at them.

Ramesh, a kirana store owner at Domalguda in the city, said only non-MRP (maximum retail price) supplies are coming in.

Logistical hurdles

“It’s just rice, daal and sugar ... nothing else is coming to us. When I called our regular set of distributors for replenishment of stocks, they said there are no trucks and drivers,” he told BusinessLine.

While announcing the lockdown, both the State and the Central governments exempted the movement of essential commodities from the purview of the restrictions. Despite initial hiccups where trucks carrying staple food items, processed and unprocessed, faced roadblocks, the State government stepped in and asked the police not to stop the vehicles that carry essential commodities.

“I sold almost all of the supplies that I secured before the lockdown. Now, I don’t have any processed food (biscuits, snacks, spices and oil),” Ramesh said.

The organised retail stores are better off. Backed with their own or third party logistic services, they are able to get steady supplies. It’s not the same with the mom-and-pop shop owners, who by and large, depend on supplies from wholesale distributors.

“The government did exempt the essential commodities from lockdown restrictions. But the issue is availability of trucks and drivers. In the absence of vehicles and drivers, the distributors are not able to move the products,” a leader of the Hyderabad Kirana Merchants Association, said on condition of anonymity.

Price hike

As the movement of stock is restricted for want of fleet, prices of cereals and pulses have gone up by 5-15 per cent in different parts of the city.

“It’s a matter of demand and supply. There’s a slight increase in prices of (rice, daal) owing to the constraints in the movement of stocks,” he said.

He, however, felt that it would be back to normal once the supply chain engine gets back to normalcy.

“The markets have been closed. The wholesalers will procure the stocks from there and distribute them to the lower end of the supply chain. Their hands are tied as their staff could not report to duties because of the lockdown,” Venkata Reddy, a kirana store owner in Himayatnagar, said.

Published on April 07, 2020

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