Retailers Hail Government’s Decision On 24×7 Operations

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New Delhi: Retailers on Wednesday welcomed the government’s decision to allow shops, malls and cinema halls to run round the clock, saying it will lead to a new level of retailing in the country.

The move will also add thousands of additional skilled jobs, besides providing flexibility and convenience to customers, they said.

The Cabinet’s decision to clear the Model Shops and Establishment Bill will bring parity in laws across India, the retailers said, however adding that its success will depend on states adopting it.

“This will definitely help in improving efficiency and a new level of retail can open up… I will call it the end of permission raj,” Shoppers Stop managing director and customer care associate Govind Shrikhande told PTI.

He said the policy will bring clarity in regulations across India and will also take away hassles of seeking permissions.

Expressing similar views, Walmart India president and CEO Krish Iyer said, “It is a welcome step and we hope all the states will adopt it.”

With flexibility available to retailers to open their establishment 24×7, not only will it add thousands of skilled jobs but will also make the retail markets across the country more vibrant, giving customers flexibility and convenience to shop anytime, he added.

Mr Iyer further said 24×7 policy for retail stores in other developed economies has given significant boost to their growth in the past. A vibrant retail environment is critical to the economic growth.

Retailers Association of India CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said this step is a win-win for everyone, including businesses, consumers and government.

“With government clearing Model Shops and Establishment Bill, a model has been created which will have to be adopted by states. Some states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have already adopted retail policy. This will benefit not just businesses but also consumers and government in the form of taxes and higher employment. Retailers will experiment for sure,” he said.

Agreeing with Mr Rajagopalan, Lacoste India managing director and CEO Rajesh Jain said it is a good step from the Centre.

“For us, we don’t keep all our stores open for 24 hours, but we look at strategic locations. Extended hours will definitely help. This move will be very good, particularly for food and beverage industry,” he said.

When asked if Shoppers Stop would look at opening stores round the clock, Mr Shrikhande said, “We would do cost benefit analysis to see whether it is feasible to keep stores open round-the-clock… one can look at opening stores at few catchment areas or extend working hours.”

The Seventh Pay Commission hike will give a big boost to consumption in the retail sector, he added.

Pacific India (Pacific Mall) executive director Abhishek Bansal said the move will also enable a level playing field for brands in online as well as offline retail platforms.

“At Pacific Mall, currently shops that close by 9 pm can now remain open till about 11 pm which will be good for customers who only get a chance to shop after they return home from work or people working late shifts,” he added.

On the security aspect, Mr Bansal said: “We have invested in security management service and surveillance systems and will have to look into hiring and training more people, according to their job profiles post this change.”

Welcoming the government’s decision, DLF CEO (rental business) Sriram Khattar said, “We shall first study the new Act and then work out the logistics, as for us, customers’ safety, security and experience are of utmost importance.”

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), however, said the decision is bound to pose several threats to the trading community.

The CAIT has suggested that before implementing the decision, states should run a pilot project in any one big market of a city for impact assessment, the traders’ body said.

A study must be undertaken to understand the quantum of increase in footfalls in markets if shops are open in the night, viz-a-viz establishment expenses, it added.

Welcoming the government’s move to allow shops to run round the clock, fast food restaurant chain KFC said it would give a boost to the industry.

“This is a welcome development as it will provide a definite boost to industry and the economy,” KFC India managing director Rahul Shinde said, adding, “We will evaluate its implications, basis various factors such as trade area and our business policies.”

Jubilant FoodWorks, which operates Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin Donuts chains, termed it as “progressive decision” and said it will benefit the service providers as well as the users and has the potential to generate additional employment opportunities.

“For us, the new law opens up greater avenues for reinventing our service offering for customers and catalyse growth,” said Jubilant FoodWorks CEO Ajay Kaul.

Hailing the Cabinet’s approval to a model law that allows shops, malls and cinema halls, among other establishments, to run 24×7, industry chamber Ficci said it is a very progressive move.

It would enable states to choose to keep shops and other such establishments open 24×7 all through the year, it said in a statement.

“This would give substantial boost to employment generation and will also benefit the consumers in terms of more convenience and accessibility,” it added.