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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Supermarkets take the punch out of traders’ anti-LBT stir

Naresh Kamath, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, May 16, 2013
First Published: 01:45 IST(16/5/2013) | Last Updated: 01:47 IST(16/5/2013)

The three-week-long strike by traders, who are protesting against the proposed local body tax (LBT), has certainly inconvenienced Mumbaiites, but while people are irritated that the prices of essential commodities are rising and not everything they want is available, the agitation has not upset daily life and caused distress. The reason: people can easily go to supermarkets instead of local kiranas (shops) to pick up what they need.

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Many consumers said they bought groceries from supermarkets during the recent six-day retail strike. “I prefer the supermarkets anyway for buying bulk goods as they give a lot of discounts and freebies,” said media professional Seema Upadhyaya. “I hardly faced any problem during the strike.”

A manager of a supermarket, who did not wish to be named, said more and more people are now shopping in supermarkets. “We have seen an exponential rise in consumers in the past few years. What attracts people is the sheer variety and discounts we offer,” he said. “We stored a considerable amount of materials since the strike was announced and sales did take place.”

As supermarkets buy products from the main wholesalers in bulk, unlike small shops, they get heavy discounts, some of which is passed on to consumers, and that is a big attraction.

Anil Gangar, chairman of Apna Bazar Cooperative Supermarket, said organised retail was catching up. “Unlike traditional retailers, we offering quality products at concessional rates and good service, which attracts consumers,” Gangar said, adding that their profits have risen by 20% this year compared to last year.

Does that mean that local kiranas are losing relevance? The Retail Association of India (RAI), believes that the city has space for both supermarkets as well as local kiranas. “During the strike, people were forced to go to supermarkets, but the local bania shop is relevant even today,” said Kumar Rajgopal, CEO, RAI.

Consumer activist Mukesh Tyagi said supermarkets have had a huge impact. “Consumers get a good deal. It is time for small stores to reinvent themselves,” he said.


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