Mom-&-pop stores fill supply gap as supermarkets face shortages

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New Delhi: As supermarkets in the national capital region (NCR) have started running dry of daily items, the network of small retailers is coming to the rescue of people in various localities.

Normally well-stocked and preferred outlets of supermarkets, like Big Bazaar, Easy day and More, are running out of supplies due to various constraints with the nationwide lockdown entering 10th day on Saturday, the people in NCR have started turning to their neighbourhood retailers for their daily supply of essentials, like flour, rice, pulses and various spices.

It’s working well also due to friendly and cordial relations developed over years between shopkeepers and residents.

Pulling out a packet of wheat flour from his 10×25 feet shop in Lajpat Nagar’s O block, Vishnu Bhagat claims he has managed to supply daily essentials without any problem. “In case of any shortage, I take down the contact number and call the person to collect the supply when the commodity is arranged,” he said.

“But for Maggi, other items are well supplied. Some times commodities, like cumin (jeera) and pulses run out of stock. But we manage to replenish them soon,” Bhagat told IANS.

Due to rise in coronavirus infection, many shopkeepers have stepped up home delivery as well as digital payment to avoid coming in contact with many. “We tell them to pay the bill digitally. And we deliver the essential items at their doorsteps without any face to face interaction,” he said.

Speaking to IANS, Atul Goyal, president of URJA (umbrella body for over 2,500 RWAs in Delhi), said, “We have not received any information about the supply shortage. If something is not available sometimes, the shopkeepers call residents and inform them about their availability in stock.”

Goyal said due to trust and faith between the two parties, supplies remain unaffected in ‘mohallas’. “There is huge trust between two parties. If a shopkeeper assures a resident that he will get flour within two days, the resident generally agrees and doesn’t resort to bulk buying. The relation has come as a life saver in the time of lockdown,” Goyal said.

In other localities too, residents echo the sentiment. “See, it’s about relationship developed over years. You will get discounts, home delivery, and even advice on what to store or needn’t worry about other items,” said B.S. Vohra, President of the East Delhi RWAs Joint Front-Federation.

On the other side, most supermarkets in Noida have started complaining about poor or no supply of certain essential items such as rice, flour and pulses.

One store manager of EasyDay retail outlet in Sector 37, Noida, told IANS, “The demand for rice, pulses, wheat and flour are high. But the supply is limited due to lockdown. We are receiving these items once every two days.”

He also said rice at his outlet was an expensive variety, costing over Rs 500 for a 5-kg packet, while basic pulses, like arhar and chana, were out of stock.

With six deaths in the last 24 hours, Covid-19 toll has reached 68 in the country. Also, number of confirmed cases was 2,902, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.

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