Kirana store owners stay open to stop panic

Many big chains are running out of stock

Scenes of empty shelves at walk-in grocery shops that were doing the rounds on social media due to panic buying in several European countries and the U.S. has started becoming a reality in the Capital with several grocery stores on Tuesday morning running out of stock.

It was the neighbourhood kirana store that people were flocking to purchase bread and other fresh products. Three shops of a popular grocery chain said that on Monday, customers had bought in bulk and they had not yet replenished the stock. Two of them were operating with their shutters half open as they did not want people to come in and see the empty shelves.

J.P. Gupta, who runs “Morning Store” in a south Delhi colony, said that he was keeping his shop open as he did not want to disappoint his customers but had stopped hiring help to provide home delivery.

“If I shut my shop, it will create panic. Since Saturday, people have bought in large quantities and several items are not in stock but we will get supply by evening. I am prepared to sit at my shop and risk catching the virus but I am providing an essential service,” Mr. Gupta said.

Employees divided

For self-owned stores, the restrictions imposed have given them the opportunity to continue business while all markets are shut. But for large grocery chains, employees are divided on whether they should expose themselves to the virus at their workplace or not.

“There are several people who walk into the shop and although we have a bottle of sanitiser with a guard ensuring that they spray their hands, it is not enough. We handle so many customers and then go back home putting our families at risk. We are not getting paid more. Most of us do not have bikes of our own to reach the shop,” said a cashier who preferred anonymity.

Some of his colleagues differ. Rajat, another employee said: “Like doctors are working to save lives, we are working to ensure that people get food. As long as they are sanitising their hands before entering, we should continue our job. Already we have a shortage of stock. Imagine the panic it would create if we close down.”

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 1:39:40 PM |

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