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No cards or e-wallets, small vendors struggle to stay afloat

With a dearth of cash in a predominantly cash economy, many such vendors, who deal in perishable goods such as flowers, fruits, meat, and ice cream, have been complaining of slow business, large losses and a threat to their livelihood.

black money crackdown Updated: Dec 12, 2016 07:56 IST
A Mariyam Alavi
A Mariyam Alavi
Hindustan Times, Hindustan Times
cash crunch,note ban,demonetisation
With a dearth of cash in a predominantly cash economy, many such vendors, who deal in perishable goods such as flowers, fruits, meat, and ice cream, have been complaining of slow business, large losses and a threat to their livelihood.

Small vendors continue to struggle for survival more than a month after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes.

With a dearth of cash in a predominantly cash economy, many such vendors, who deal in perishable goods such as flowers, fruits, meat, and ice cream, have been complaining of slow business, large losses and a threat to their livelihood.

Most of these vendors claim that business has taken a hit and they now barely make 50% of what they were making earlier.

Sunil, a fruit vendor in Gautam Nagar, claimed that the government’s move had made their survival difficult. “We have no work. There are no customers,” he said.

The few customers who do make it to shops, try to use old notes for their purchases. Mohammed Haider, a butcher in Daryaganj, claimed that they had to turn such customers away as they would have no means to exchange the old notes later.

Read: Delhi: Long queues outside ATMs, next two days could be worse

They claimed that even if the customer comes with valid notes, the problem of providing them small change remains. “We do not have change to give to customers. People often pay Rs 2,000 after buying goods worth Rs 100. Where will we get the change from?” asked Rajiv Sharma, an ice-cream vendor at India Gate.

Vendors like Bhola Chaudhury, who sells fruits in Gautam Nagar, raised concerns about their perishable stock. “Chikoos don’t last more than 2 days. Apples need to be sold in 3-4 days. All fruits rot if kept. So not only am I not making sales now, if the unsold stock starts rotting I lose money,” he said.

Chaudhary’s concerns were echoed by ice cream vendors at India Gate.

“People used to earlier come to India Gate to eat ice cream. But now business is down. We even tried to get the company people to take back the expired ice creams, and refund our money. They refused, so we had to just throw it away,” said Vikram Sakia.

Vendors said that business had probably slowed down because many do not consider the perishable items sold by them as necessities. “People don’t have money for their everyday expenses, where will they get the cash for flowers? This is a luxury for many, but for us it is our livelihood,” said Jatin Ghai, vendor in Defence Colony Market.

The lack of e-wallet services like Paytm, or the unavailability of card swipe machines at these stalls also hurts business. Many of these vendors deal exclusively in cash, as they need cash to replenish the stock. Others claimed that they did not understand the technology to use it.

First Published: Dec 12, 2016 07:43 IST