Mumbai: Shops will open today, but will customers come?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020, 07:14 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

As government and retailers nail details of partial re-opening of shops, owners worried about footfall till local trains resume

Shops prepare to reopen at Thakur Village, Kandivli. Pic/ Satej Shinde
Shops prepare to reopen at Thakur Village, Kandivli. Pic/ Satej Shinde

Even as shopkeepers eagerly wait to open their stores from today, they are confused over whether their shop is on the right or left side of roads. Ward offices are yet to decide on the correct sides. Some storeowners also feel they would not get customers because trains are still not running.

THE BMC had issued guidelines late on June 2, allowing shops to be open from today with the condition that while those on one side of a road would function on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, those on the other side would open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to maintain physical distancing. However, the decision on which side of the road is left and which is right has to be taken by the respective ward offices. While no shopkeeper is against the decision, confusion over the right sides prevailed till late Thursday evening.

Dadar shop owner Harakchand Gosar told mid-day, "We cleaned the shop two days back and are ready to open. But we have no clue whether it is on the right or left side of the road. We haven't got any information from the BMC or shopkeepers' union."

Sunil Chandan, who runs an electronics store in Dadar East was in same dilemma. "I will open my shop tomorrow. We have another shop in Thane, but it hasn't done any business since the past two months."

Pravin Chheda, ex-corporator and secretary of Akhil Ghatkopar Vyapari Mandal said, "Shopkeepers are ready to open their shops on alternate days. But we haven't got any instruction from the N ward office on how to choose the right sides of roads. We have given them some suggestions. Hope it will be finalised by tonight."

Another issue that the shopkeepers at Naigoan Cross Road are facing is that it comes under the F South ward, while the road on the opposite side comes under F North ward. This is a problem at some other parts of the city as well.

"My cloth store is in F South ward, so there is a lot of confusion over it. Besides, the government has not allowed pillion riders, hence, I'll have to spend R400 to R500 daily to reach my shop with another person as none of my workers are there. Three of them have gone to their hometowns, one took up another job and another is non-traceable," said Chandan Vasaria. He added that the Dadar market depends on customers from across the city. "As local trains are not running, how will we get customers?" he asked.

Shops on either side of roads to open on alternate days. PIC/SATEJ SHINDE
Shops on either side of roads to open on alternate days. Pic/ Satej Shinde

The R North ward (Dahisar) office has published a notification allowing shops to open from today. Sandhya Nandedkar, assistant commissioner of the ward, said senior inspector of Shop and Establishment was guiding the shopkeepers.

Retailers Association of India CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said, "We feel it is important to allow all stores, including malls, to open everyday and for longer hours to avoid crowding. Allowing stores to open all days of the week will ensure that the demand is spread over the week. Furthermore, limiting store timings leads to a rush of panic buyers, which is detrimental to social distancing. This defeats the very purpose of the guidelines."

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