New Delhi: Offline phone retailers have knocked the doors of home ministry to allow reopening of stores for a designated time with limited staff and area-wise home delivery of orders from April 20 as inventory worth crores of rupees lies locked in 150,000 brick-and-mortar stores.

“We recommend allowing all physical shops dealing on sales, repair and service activity of mobile phones, mobile devices (laptops and tablets) and their supporting accessories to be opened on a limited basis (three days a week for five hours) with limited number of staff,” the All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) said in an April 17 letter to union home minister Amit Shah.

Kerala and some cities like Nagpur have already allowed such services to commence in a controlled manner, AIMRA president Arvinder Khurrana said.

“An appropriate standard operating procedure can be created for such shops/business establishments to ensure that all relevant social distancing and preventive measures are followed by such establishments with government supervision,” the letter said.

The retailers’ body is staring at heavy financial burden over the 40-day lockdown in the form of rentals, EMIs, interests, employee salaries and zero sales even as the likes of Amazon and Flipkart prepare to deliver non-essentials beginning April 20.

The deferment of EMI and GST payments for April-June period for MSMEs may not be an ultimate relief for traders as they carry additional interest and late fee for MSMEs with annual turnover above Rs 5 crore, Khurana said.

“You need to empathise with the current deteriorating condition of the offline mobile trade which, if not allowed to start sales soon, might go into severe recession and bankruptcy for some,” the letter said.

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