Small retailers urge govt to allow shops to open amid Covid-19 lockdown

According to FRAI, March to June is the most important period for small retailers to earn extra money
After major industries and retail bodies, the smallest of retail businesses have appealed to the government to let shops open amidst the lockdown.

The Federation of Retailer Association of India (FRAI), a representative body of about 40 million micro, small and medium retailers from across the country on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce an economic package to compensate losses under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

The members of the association sustain their livelihood by selling goods of daily needs like biscuits, soft drinks, mineral water, cigarettes, bidi, pan etc. in the neighbourhood. The profit of these micro retailers in selling these essential products works out to about Rs 15,000 per month. The closure of such shops during the lockdown has stopped the daily inflow of their income, FRAI said.

“While big grocery shops selling essential commodities are allowed to operate during the lockdown, why should our small shopkeeper brothers, who also sell similar goods of daily public needs, be deprived to earn their livelihood," said Ram Ashre Mishra.

Case in point, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has batted for the need to let major manufacturing industries open amidst the lockdown to provide them liquidity relief.

“While the government has allowed grocery shops to remain open, there hasn't been any consideration for businesses which are even smaller. This includes vegetable sellers plying their trade from pushcarts and roadside tea sellers and paan, bidi, cigarette shops,” said Anand Tiwari, a senior functionary of the trade body. There has been no official estimation of the financial hit incurred by these segments, which are among the most vulnerable, he added.

According to FRAI, March to June is the most important period for small retailers to earn extra money. But while business plans have been irrevocably altered, FRAI said its members and their families are facing survival challenges.

All the capital is tied up in stocks of essential products which remain unsold inside shops, and small traders are now having to dip into small savings to survive in the absence of dedicated economic support from the government.

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