AIMRA Appeal to Home Ministry to Allow Operate with Some Limits Offline Handset Retailers

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Offline phone retailers have urged home ministry to allow them reopen their stores for a designated time with limited staff for area-wise home delivery of orders after April 20 as inventory worth crores of rupees lies locked in 1.5 lakh brick-and-mortar stores.

All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) has sumbitted a letter on April 17 to union home minister Amit Shah requesting the government to allow all physical shops dealing in sales, repair and service activity of mobile phones, mobile devices (laptops and tablets) and their supporting accessories to operate on a limited basis (3 days a week for 5 hours duration) with limited number of staff. An appropriate standard operating procedure list can be created for such shops / business establishments to ensure that all relevant social distancing and preventive measures are to be ensured by such establishments with Government supervision. Kerala allowed such services to commence in a controlled manner, according to reports.

The retailers’ body is staring at heavy financial burden over the 40-day lockdown in form of rentals, EMIs, interests, employee salaries and zero sales even as the likes of Amazon, Flipkart prepare to deliver non-essentials beginning April 20. The deferment of EMI and GST payments for April-June period for MSMEs may not be a significant relief for traders as they carry additional interest and late fee for MSMEs. Some empathy needed from the government’s side during this current deteriorating condition of the offline mobile trade which, if not allowed to start sales soon, might slip into severe recession and bankruptcy for some the letter emphasized.

“So far there no clarity as to who can operate or not and what are the limits for operating. If somebody starts operating his retail or repair outlet and if there is some crossing of limits, police personnel can harass him. We want more clarity from the government and also we want the government to extend the relaxations to B&M IT channel to operate with some restrictions. We have been conducting several motivational webinars to enegise the retailers and we will conduct more,”said Vibhooti Prasad, Sr VP, AIMRA.