Neighbourhood stores stocked better, brand loyalty a casualty



 Neighbourhood grocery shops in Tamil Nadu have stocked up better to serve their customers as opposed to bigger retail chains, say residents. Brand loyalty for essential items has gone for a toss with people taking whatever is available amid the Lockdown21 enforced to fight the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Similarly supplies of vegetables for small traders has started to normalise with door-to-door sales getting back on tricycle wheels.

"We have an adequate stock of essential items rice, lentils, oil. The issue now is -- we have to go to the distributor to pick up the stock," said a small shopkeeper in Mylapore locality in Chennai.

A similar view was expressed by another shopkeeper.

The outlets see a steady flow of customers making their entry and exit with items.

On the other hand, bigger retail chains have limited or run out of stocks.

"Nilgiris and Amudham outlets have limited stocks. Small outlets in Royapettah are better stocked," Kalpalatha Mohan an executive in a private company told IANS.

A similar situation prevails in the textile town Coimbatore with residents getting their vegetables at their door steps and also at shops.

"The smaller shops have stocks as compared to departmental stores," D.Diwakar a resident told IANS over phone.

"The essential items are available but not biscuits and locally made snacks. Owing to the lockdown the price of sugar has gone up by about Rs 3 per kg," N.R.R.Suresh Alwar, a grocery store owner in Trichy told IANS over phone.

He said prior to the lockdown, distributors used to deliver the products at our stores and there will be a one week credit period. "Now we have to take delivery from the distributor's place for cash. There is no credit," Alwar added.

According to him, the per bill size for smaller outlets have seen a big jump as compared to normal days. "During normal days, people buy their needs daily or once in two days. But not they buy for a week. So the per bill size has increased even for small outlets," Alwar said.

The stores now get customers outside the neighbourhood as people who go in cars stop their vehicle on seeing a grocery shop open and purchase. "The shops are getting new customers. But we know they may not be regular and hence cannot increase our stock in the coming months based on this month's sales," Alwar said.

According to him, sales of maida, sugar and oil have dipped as the government has asked the tea, sweet and snacks shops to shut down.

And there is no brand loyalty now with shoppers taking what is available on the shelves in the case of bigger stores or what is given by a small shopkeeper. IANS