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Covid-19: How are ‘kirana’ stores coping?

Covid-19: How are ‘kirana’ stores coping?

Covid-19: How are ‘kirana’ stores coping?
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By Priya Sheth  Mar 19, 2020 5:28 PM IST (Updated)

As coronavirus is spreading fast across the globe, people cutting across class in India are taking precautionary measures to keep themselves insulated from the virus.

As coronavirus is spreading fast across the globe, people cutting across class in India are taking precautionary measures to keep themselves insulated from the virus.

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Champak Shah, a 54 year old ‘Kirana’ store owner, sits at the counter with a mask covering half his face, plastic disposable gloves and has a bottle of hand sanitiser next to him.
Every customer who walks in has to first sanitise their hands before touching anything in the store. Shah has two staff who assist customers with their purchases. These men also have masks and gloves on.
“This is the first time in my life that we have become so cautious about the way we do business,” said Shah, who stocks up almost every product that households need for daily consumption.
The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way businesses operate in India. The usually careless ‘kiranawala’ has now become a man who follows stringent protocols.
“We don’t allow entry of sales staff into the store. The offloading of products happens outside the store and our employees organise the products on shelves,” said Mukesh Jain, a Kiranawala at Dadar.
Retail stores like these are making all efforts to minimise risk of unnecessary exposure to others.
“We have completely stopped home deliveries of groceries and other items. At the maximum, we deliver groceries to the main gate of the building and hand it over to the security in charge. This is only in special cases or if there are senior citizens who have placed the order,” said Shyam Thakkar, a kirana store owner.
For those who are home-delivering groceries, orders have surged over the last week. “People are ordering ration that will last them for at least 2-3 months.
Orders for essentials like rice, pulses, jaggery, and flour are in abundance. We don’t have so much stock so we have told people that it will take 3-4 days before orders can be fulfilled,” said Kanti Shah, who runs a kirana store at Bhuleshwar.
Shelves at several of these retail stores, mini super markets and kirana stores, are partially empty.
Popular brands and SKUs are sold out for many categories, say shop owners. In such a situation, people are also willing to buy not-so-well known or expensive brands if available.
“All our imported sauces and frozen food cans are sold out. People are also stocking up on things like baked bean cans, milk powder and other items which have a longer shelf life,” said a store manager who runs a small supermarket chain at hanging garden.
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