Delhi traders try to woo back customers with heavy rebates, free masks

Topics Traders | COVID-19

There is also liquidity crunch, payments are delayed and the supply chain from manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers is still blocked
Nearly two months after markets in Delhi reopened amid coronavirus pandemic, traders say they continue to battle low demand due to customers staying away, shortage of staff and liquidity crunch.

Many traders are resorting to heavy rebates and building customer confidence through social media to boost business, but in vain.

The traders' bodies are also in touch with the Centre and Delhi government to run special trains to bring back migrant workers from their home states to solve the labour crisis.

The markets opened in Delhi post the May 17 lockdown relaxations after following odd-even formula.

Brijesh Goyal, head of Chamber of Trade and Industry, says the demand is not picking up due to various reasons, including fear of coronavirus.

There is also liquidity crunch, payments are delayed and the supply chain from manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers is still blocked, he says.

"Traders are facing labour crisis after migrant workers left for their home states during lockdown. Though the workers want to come back, transportation is a hurdle. We are in touch with both the Centre and Delhi government for special trains to bring them back," Goyal adds.

Ashok Randhawa, president, Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association says various steps are being taken by traders to win back the confidence of customers in such testing times.

The demand is still around 10-15 per cent to what it was during pre-coronavirus period. Customer confidence is shaken and we are trying to lure them back by offering huge rebates and taking all possible safety measures against the virus.

"Last week, we held a sale giving rebate of 20-30 per cent, but the demand did not improve much. We are focusing on complete sanitisation and even giving free masks to the customers, but they seem unconvinced due to the large number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, he says.

In a bid to bring back customers, market associations like Krishna Nagar in Karol Bagh and in east Delhi have urged civic bodies to allow plying of vehicles in these markets. These markets have designated streets for pedestrians.

Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders Association says Connaught Place, one of the most spacious markets of the city, also wears a dull look.

The customers are missing and sales are as low as 10-12 per cent to that in normal days, posing survival issues before the shopkeepers and traders, he says.

"We have been using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp as well as newspaper advertisements to boost confidence of customers. But, the fear of contracting the disease is preventing people from going out," Bhargava adds.

The market associations say unless the government takes concrete measures for economic recovery by focusing on common man and small traders, the demand will not pick up.

"The government can help us through boosting liquidity, offering low interest rates and providing tax relief and waiver of various charges. Currently, expenses are much higher than the income and losses are huge," says Sanjeev Mehra, president of Khan Market Traders Association.

Small shopkeepers and traders have always supported the government, and in this hour of crisis, it is payback time for the government, Bhargava adds.

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