With most retailers withdrawing from the strike against local body tax (LBT) on Saturday, consumers can look forward to a more buzzing weekend compared to streets marked by downed shutters over the last five days.
While no formal announcement of withdrawal made in the morning, most retailers decided to end the strike. The five-day shutdown proved costly for retailers, who faced huge losses as goods started rotting. Consumers, too, paid a price as essential commodities remained unavailable.
“Food items were rotting and hence we decided to open the stores,” said Naresh Cheddha, owner of Cheddha stores, Matunga. Another owner of a grocery shop near King Circle said: “We opened the store as it was unaffordable to bear anymore losses. Five days is a long period to shut down business.”
A few shop owners in Dadar were forced to shut their stores by association members who demanded owners to continue with the agitation. As a result, a delegation of retailers met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray to seek help. MNS party workers were later stationed outside shops to ensure smooth sailing of business.
Areas like Lalbaug, Sion, Matunga and Dadar were abuzz as consumers thronged grocery, garment and stationery shops after facing a tough time over the past week.
“Our stock of vegetable and grains were emptied two days ago. The open shops come as a great relief,” said Sangeeta Patil, Dadar resident.
With business as usual in most parts of the city, the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) was forced to formally withdraw from the strike by late evening.
Viren Shah, president of FRTWA, said: “We cannot agitate without total support. Our strength was visible as all shops downed shutters for five days.”
Shah said the open shops did not mark the end of their protest. “The retailers opened shops because they could not sustain the shutdown and loss of business. But we will not register for LBT. We will protest with open shutters. The fight will continue till our demands are met. We will follow the non-compliance approach,” he said.