Even as the mall culture is fast spreading in the city, there are still some traditional shopping areas that have managed to retain their popularity.
Narrow, crowded streets with small, congested shops are characteristic of the old markets located in George Town, Purasawalkam, T.Nagar, Mylapore and Triplicane. They survive because of a combination of factors, prominent among them being competitive pricing, customer loyalty and the rapport between the shopkeepers and consumers.
M. Shantilal Pandya, president, Federation of Madras Merchants and Manufacturers Association, said most shopkeepers have been selling goods at the oldest markets in George Town and Broadway for generations. Many of them have retained regular customers over generations. From clothes, groceries, electrical and electronic items, the area has become a shopping hub for wholesalers and retailers.
K.Srinivasulu, assistant honorary secretary of Madras Piece Goods Merchants Association, said: “Not everyone can afford to shop at the malls. Though Godown Street mostly caters to retailers, customers prefer purchasing clothes there as they find the rates attractive and the products authentic.”
Purasawalkam High Road is a study in contrast, with the presence of shopping centres and small shops. N.Satyaseelan, past president of Purasai Traders Association, said there are nearly 1,000 shops, which mainly deal in clothes and footwear, from Kellys to Doveton. They have earned their reputation with quality products.
On an average, about 40,000 people visit the area daily. Customers can pick up something from pavement shops for as less as Rs.10, which may not be possible at the malls, he said.
T.Nagar is another shopping area that bustles with activity through the year. A.Shahul Hameed, a member of Ranganathan Street Merchants Association, said: “We have such variety that all the purchases for a wedding can be done here.”
Traders are able to offer a competitive price as the volume of goods they deal is high. Shopping malls target only a segment of people. But, in traditional markets goods are available for different tastes and affordability of customers, traders said.