Retail stores and malls across the country have been allowed to open, but different states across the country have given different guidelines that stores need to follow in order to open.
The Retailers Association of India said that while it welcomes the move by the Ministry of Home Affairs to open up malls and all retail stores, the degree to which states have opened differs based on their impact, which has led to separate regulations.
“For instance, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu have decided not to allow shopping malls to open from 8th June. Furthermore, Tamil Nadu has ordered shops to function without air conditioners. Maharashtra has introduced an odd-even system for opening, additionally imposing restrictions on the use of trial rooms and the exchange of products,” RAI said in a statement.
It added that for the retail machinery to function properly, “uniform and non-discriminatory opening of retail across all states is key.”
Another condition that was laid down by the MHA is that customers need to have at least six feet distance between one another, and more than five customers cannot be allowed inside stores. This, RAI said, is counterproductive to the Centre’s measures to revive the sector, as different stores have different floor areas, and stores which are larger can accommodate more people.
The condition limiting the number of people “should be reviewed allowing for the number of people based on the area of each store as per a guideline laid down by the government. We also hope that the state guidelines will be implemented uniformly in all districts and are interpreted in the same manner by all enforcing authorities,” RAI said.
RAI said that the government should not only make it easier for retailers to do business, but also ensure the safety of customers. For this, they suggested longer store hours so that there is a wider window of time to shop to avoid overcrowding, guidelines on air conditioning, etc.
“The retail industry employs about 46 million people, and it is important to keep it functioning smoothly, as before. Business is floundering, millions of jobs are at stake and we need a policy framework that allows for the non-discriminatory reopening of retail and time-bound resolution of fiscal and legal matters,” RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said.