May 07, 2011

Chennai's stores could take a afternoon break!

For many, shopping is a huge experience, something to look forward to, to get excited about, to indulge in.
For some, like me watching shoppers makes interesting observation.

Earlier this week, I visited a jewellery store located on a  busy road in the Virugambakkam neighbourhood.
Young Ashish who graduated a couple of years ago was blessed by his Dad to branch off on his own, having learnt the tricks and the ins and outs of the trade for many years.

This is a business that runs in the Rajasthanis and those who have moved away from the basics of lending money, and from pawn broking have gone into businesses. Jewellery is one of them.

Ashish's dad was perhaps the earliest to set up shop in this part of the city. He launched himself over three decades ago when the fields and scrublands on either side of Arcot Road were slowly being measured and marked to be sold as plots to middle-class families dreaming of a house of their own.

Arcot Road was then the pathway to moviedom, a time when people gathered at the railway gates in Kodambakkam to gawk at film stars in their cars, waiting for the trains to pass by and let the gates be opened to vehicular traffic.

Today, the once-suburban colonies are sprawling neighbourhoods and Ashish is banking on this growth to fuel his fortunes.
As I sat at the young man's grandly designed new store I watched men and women immersed in their quest to buy some jewellery. Some made a quick selection, paid in crisp notes and left, a couple took time to select a pair of gold bangles, went out to get cash at a ATM and were happy with their buy and one lady and her daughter spent close to an hour to value bits of used jewellery, choose a new piece and sign up on a chit scheme.

The buzz though was because Akshaya Tritiya was at hand!
When the last shopper of that day had left and Aahish was free to chat with me, it was close to 10 p.m.

On a stuffy, hot day when the temperature was soaring at about 41degrees it was a relief to enjoy the air-conditioning in that new store.
I wonder why shops and retail businesses in our neighbourhoods keep their doors open from 9 am to 10 pm, when in summer, few people will stir out between 1 and 3.

Isn't there a lot to be gained by closing down at that time of the day?  Retailers in parts of Pondicherry and Goa do it to enjoy a leisurely siesta and it pays!

Today, local shopping peaks after 8 p.m. Retailers have realised the needs of changing lifestyles and demands. Perhaps, a long break at lunch time in a tropical zone is a profitable practice.

1 comment:

GVK said...

No one would disagree with the point made by Vincent, but I don't see many shop owners opting split-shopping hours anytime soon. Calls for mindset change.Split-hours are followed in Mid-east where shops are open till late evening.In contrast shops in Germany close at 6.30 p m on week days, for convenience of shop assistants.