Mumbai: Retail body 'not very positive' about reopening of shops

Updated: May 31, 2020, 06:55 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Although mood in the retail camp was optimistic after a meeting between the state and the federation, retailers await state, BMC guidelines for fifth phase of lockdown

All over Mumbai, standalone grocery stores have seen long lines and no social distancing. The retail shops are saying that if allowed to open, they will follow all necessary precautions. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
All over Mumbai, standalone grocery stores have seen long lines and no social distancing. The retail shops are saying that if allowed to open, they will follow all necessary precautions. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

The responsibility of the retail crash, if it happens, will lie on the Maharashtra government." This is what Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA), told mid-day on Wednesday, when he warned of the consequences of retailers taking a heavy hit on their business as the lockdown entered its fifth consecutive phase. Even as the central government announced a lockdown extension to June 30, with many relaxations, guidelines for Maharashtra and Mumbai are expected today.

The retail federation is eagerly awaiting these. A day after Shah spoke to us, a meeting took place between Shah, Aaditya Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, during which the state government opened the floor for suggestions and advice on how to go about re-opening establishments, while ensuring maximum safety and security. "They wanted my advice and suggestions on what measures of security could be taken should shops be allowed open," Shah said.

Although Shah was positive in the immediate aftermath of the meeting, he said (on Saturday) that after reading Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray's comments in the morning's newspapers, the prospect of establishments being reopened by next week now looked "bleak". Shah said that he had offered his suggestions to the administration on how they could ensure reopening of establishments, without compromising on the safety and security of its staff and customers. "All shops will be sanitised regularly before opening. They will have to use electronic thermometers. We will do everything necessary."

He added: "There will be a severe impact on business, and lakhs of people will be rendered jobless due to unemployment. If the economic revival of Mumbai does not happen soon, then the direct benefit will go to the e-commerce industry and retailers' stock will be a dead stock."

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