Kiranas become a lifeline for urban consumers in times of lockdown

NEW DELHI/KOLKATA/AHMEDABAD: The countrywide lockdown has helped neighbourhood grocery stores to make a comeback in metro cities as modern trade and ecommerce players are still grappling with supply chain issues and shortage of manpower.

According to Retailers Association of India (RAI) CEO Kumar Rajagopalan, availability of essentials is least impacted in the country – unlike the West where consumers are seen lining up before supermarkets in serpentine queues – because of kirana stores in every nook and corner. “Kiranas have become the lifeline of the country,” he said.

Large supermarket chains and online grocers are yet to resume operations fully since the start of the 21-day nationwide lockdown last week mainly due to severe manpower crunch, owners of most kiranas in cities are going to distributors or stockists themselves and picking up the goods they require.

“The distributors are unable to bring supplies to the store as there is shortage of manpower. So, we go to their warehouse ourselves to pick up goods,” said Ujjwal Jain who runs a kirana in Delhi’s Vasundhara Enclave locality called Jain store.

Some kiranas are working with Resident Welfare Associations of housing societies to ensure supply of groceries and other essential commodities to households. “We have set up slots for each residential complex during which we deliver all orders at their main gate, with apartment numbers written prominently,” Jain said. “Residents come, one by one to collect their packet and make payment.”

Raj Kumar Jain who runs a kirana shop in Noida said, “We are taking orders on WhatsApp and delivering products to various residential complexes once a day.”

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