Lockdown: Retailers Face Trouble Connecting with Wholesalers for Essential Items
Even as PM Narendra Modi assured the country of the availability of essential goods throughout the period of lockdown from March 25, the essential commodities market in Guwahati portraits a different scenario altogether.
It is to be mentioned that on March 24, PM Modi announced a 21-day country-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
G Plus took stock of the grocery store retailers across the city. On the very first day of the three-week nationwide lockdown, a few small, as well as departmental stores across most of the localities in Guwahati, were found open, doing regular business, while few other said they would be operating for a few hours every day, during the next 21 days.
Speaking about the availability of stock, the most common answer found was, “We are prepared for the next 7 to 10 days.”
Kailash Agarwal, running a departmental store in Bharalumukh said, “As the wholesale market is closed, we are finding it difficult to procure stock for the coming days.
Some distributors are open, but there are no vehicles for delivery as the government has not given permission to ply during the lockdown. Further, many delivery boys and other labourers have left for their respective villages, so how are we supposed to collect the loads of products.”
He further added, “Most factories like wheat mill and other such mills do not have workers, so we are worried that we might run out of stock within the next few days.”
Further, a grocery store owner at Noonmati said, "A majority of the wholesalers have shut their shops in Fancy Bazar and we are facing difficulty in procuring stock. Moreover, today there are hardly any customers as the police is stopping people on the streets and is lathi charging on them. It is getting difficult for people to even come to shop for essentials."
He added that people have hoarded goods in the past few days. “Fearing availability of essential items during the lockdown, many customers have hoarded essential items for the next one to two months.”
On similar lines, Rahul Goyal a grocery store owner from Beltola Tiniali told G Plus, “My store is open, I opened it around 8:30 am today if the situation is okay I will keep it open till 10 pm. People are coming and getting things of their requirements.”
“I asked the Basistha police how to get stock for my store, do I need permission to go to distributors? I was not given any answer due to the non-availability of higher officials. Hence I am not able to go out and get my stock as army officials are on the road and they are hitting people.”
Additionally, it is to be mentioned that many people have stocked up their resources for more than a month, although the lockdown has been announced for 21 days only and the government has been repeatedly assuring citizens of the availability of essential products.
However, due to lack of proper directives to the essential commodities supply and retail chain, shopkeepers are unsure on how to continue businesses without the availability of enough stock. They have urged the government to provide them with proper guidelines and rules on this matter.
On the other hand, the situation seemed to be improving a little by the third day of the lockdown.
Rahul Goyal, a grocery store owner at Beltola said that by Friday March 27, the wholesale stores for grocery and other essential items were open and functioning, the problem was to carry the items to the store in the absence of carry vans.
“The wholesale stores have opened but it is getting difficult for us to keep to stock items for a longer period of time. We are currently bringing lesser stock and operating that way,” he mentioned.
He further added that a considerable number of customers are coming to buy the essential commodities every day.
“However, people are maintaining social distancing at the store and we are not allowing more than five persons at a time at the store,” said Goyal.