Mumbai retail partially reopens but confusion remains
Small-scale retail businesses in Mumbai have welcomed extended trading hours but remaining restrictions have caused confusion and resentment among some traders.
After remaining closed since April 5, many ‘non-essential’ stores including fashion, beauty, and jewellery retailers opened their doors again under the metro’s new lockdown regulations and ‘essential’ stores are also enjoying extended trading hours. However, new regulations state that shops located on opposite sides of a road can only open on alternate days, a move designed to avoid crowds. This has been met with criticism by store owners eager to restart business and has caused confusion with police in some areas unsure which side of the street to open, ET Bureau reported.
“We pay a rent of Rs 1.80 lakh [$2,458] to Rs 2 lakh per month, bills, taxes and wages, and are getting no rebate although business has been zero since 2020,” a garment retailer in Lokhandwala told TNN about the current situation. “Now that non-essentials can operate, let us earn some income- until the third Covid wave arrives to halt everything again.”
Mumbai’s malls, shopping centres, salons, and gyms remain shut and the weekend curfew is still in effect although many retailers are still paying rent. A number of traders’ federations, including the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, have called on the local government to allow shops to open for longer each day to enable them to compete more fairly with e-commerce retailers which are able to do business 24 hours a day.
On June 1, Maharashtra reported 14,123 Covid-19 cases, its lowest daily rise since March 10, LiveMint reported. Daily recoveries exceeded daily new infections during the 24-hour period giving retailers some hope that unlocking measures could continue.
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