Retailers body urges state govts to keep grocery stores open during lockdown

Mumbai: The Retailers Association of India (RAI) has requested state administrations to allow food and grocery stores of all formats, irrespective of their locations, to stay open during the lockdown period.

The request comes after some unfortunate incidents in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat where the police beat up employees and delivery staff of retailers and dragged them to police stations.

The association has also requested home deliveries be allowed to prevent people from stepping out; thus, help prevent the spreading of virus infection.

Let all grocery stores within malls or outside, air-conditioned or non-air-conditioned, small or large and online or offline to stay open, the association said.

It also noted that most states have already agreed with their view that shutting down grocery stores selling essential daily items will cause inconvenience to citizens and may set off panic buying, creating a shortage.

Noting that these employees are risking their lives for serving the public, the association said they have requested chief ministers and law enforcement authorities of these states to intervene so that essential goods are accessible to the public without any hindrance.

Due to the mandatory closure of malls and retail stores across states, retailers face imminent financial crisis/insolvency. As a result, the livelihoods of millions employed in retail are in peril.

The association has also submitted representations to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Commerce Ministry, and the Finance Ministry to help the retail industry cope with the crisis in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

They have also written to the Reserve Bank of India and State Bank of India requesting a stimulus package to ensure continuity of retail businesses and consumption.

Their monetary and fiscal boosts include 120 days of moratorium for repayments till end of June and wage subsidy, subsidy on utility bills and extension for payment of statutory dues like advance tax, GST till end of June.

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