Mumbai: Traders relieved as extended shop timings draw higher footfalls | Mumbai News – Times of India


MUMBAI: After a year and a half of the Covid-19 lockdown, retailers and shopkeepers heaved a sigh of relief as the Maharashtra government permitted them to reopen for business till 10.00pm rather than roll down shutters by 4.00pm.
Sales volumes rose perceptibly on the first day that shop timings were relaxed.
A trader in Andheri said the relaxed timing also freed them from the pressure of illegal bribes and police harassment.
Housewives and office goers were also pleased at being able to make purchases at their convenience, in the evening hours or after work.
The earlier deadlines had caused them to compromise their schedules and in fact increased crowds in markets. Now the volume of buyers will be dispersed.
Bustling crowds unfolded at Malad Market, with several shoppers stopping by to indulge in local street food.
The Bata Shoes showroom in Khar witnessed a rise of 20% in sales Tuesday.
For the first time in months, Bharatkshetra sari shop and Dadar Emporium in Dadar Market welcomed customers after dusk. This market would close by 8.30pm in the pre-Covid era.
In Irla, Mayur Shah, owner of Ella Garments, said, “I run a ladies’ fashion store. Women have time to head out shopping only late afternoon once they complete their household chores. The authorities have done the right thing by extending timings. Employees have suffered salary cuts. Hopefully we will recover now.”
Shah says that even if the dreaded third wave of Covid does sweep the city, the state should explore other options rather than closing non-essential shops entirely.
“We could perhaps operate till 7.00pm or shut on weekends. But closing very early will jeopardise us again,” he said.
Kishore Kulkarni, chairman of Chembur Merchants Association, reported a marginal increase in footfalls Tuesday.
“Shopkeepers are ensuring that Covid appropriate behaviour is followed and each customer is wearing a mask and sanitising their hands. We wish that business continues uninterrupted now.”
Mahendra Chhadva of Ritz Optician in Mulund said they were elated with the 10.00pm news but confused whether the order was applicable from Tuesday or Wednesday.
“Some shopkeepers have paid fines up to Rs 12,000 so they are worried,” he said. Hardik Gori, a grocer, said some traders shut shop at 4.00pm fearing that police may arrive to impose a fine.
Matunga corporator Nehal Shah said the decision to extend business hours was long overdue as traders were hard pressed to even manage shop rent given their meagre income from short business hours.
Meanwhile, BMC commissioner I S Chahal Tuesday clarified that the existent night curfew will continue from 11.00pm to 5.00am.
There is no restriction on public movement during the rest of the day but gatherings are prohibited. BMC said shops may function till 10.00pm throughout the week but malls will remain shut.

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