Mumbai Shop Are Open Amid Staff Shortage, Owners Say Hardly Any Customers

Mumbai: The opening of the shops on alternate days will continue and they will now remain closed on Sundays.

Shops in Mumbai largely remain deserted despite a change in the guidelines.

Mumbai:

Mumbai, the financial capital of the India and the country's biggest coronavirus hotspot, is moving towards unlocking itself. As per the revised guidelines issued by the city's civic body, shops in the city can operate till 9 pm. The opening of the shops on alternate days will continue and they will now remain closed on Sundays.

Despite a change in the guidelines, the shops largely remain deserted.

Aslam Jain has a small shop in Mumbai's Dadar area. He used to make Rs 20,000 daily on an average before the lockdown. But since his shop reopened last week, he has been making only Rs 5,000 daily.

"Customers are very few now. Compared to earlier days, customers have reduced by over 50 per cent," Mr Jain, owner of Rajasthan Novelty, said.

Dharmesh Mehta also complains about the reduction in customers. He blames the alternate day rule in which shops on one side of the road can remain open on one day and those on the opposite side to open the next day as the reason for the drop in sales.

"Nobody is coming. People don't know if we are open or not. People are still scared to come out. Also, they don't have any transportation to come," he said.

Things, however, are looking up for sweet and snack shops which have managed to make a good start with customers queuing up.

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Jagdish Ramavale has a sweet and snack shop called Dadar Surti Farsan in Dadar.

"Business is good. Things have opened up after two and a half months. So people are coming out," he said.

However, retailers and restaurant owners have a common complaint: shortage of staff.

Left jobless and homeless after the nationwide lockdown was declared in March, tens of thousands of migrant workers have left cities like Mumbai for their villages. Many others who are in the city can't report to work because local trains are not functioning.

Shailesh Chedda, a shop manager, says out of his staff of 35, only seven are working currently.

"People who stay in far off places, they can't come. Even then, they can come on one of the days. But daily commute is just not possible. It is not just my shop but everyone around is functioning with  10 to 20 per cent staff, " he said.