MK Stalin led Tamil Nadu Government released a Gazette Notification dated 2 June 2022 which allows retailers employing more than 10 persons to operate 24/7, on all days of the year, for a period of 3 years w.e.f 5 June 2022. Highlights of the notification are below;
Every employee will be given one holiday in a week on rotation basis. Employer shall exhibit the details of such employees in a conspicuous place in the establishment. Wages and overtime shall be credited to a savings bank account. Employers shall not require the staff to work over 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week. Penal action to be initiated against employers who do not comply with overtime wages. Women employees shall not be required to work beyond 8pm, except for with written consent of such employees. Transport facility to be provided for such women staff who work on shifts. Employees shall be provided with rest rooms, wash rooms, safety lockers & basic amenities. POSH guidelines to be adhered to strictly.
Retailers across the state have cheered the notification as it offers them flexibility in operating hours, especially during festival times. However, many feel it may not be useful year long, unlike many global cities such as Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, etc. Manoj Jain, a third generation grocery trader in Sowcarpet, North Madras, said most of his customers visit after 7pm. But the crowd ceases around 10pm. There is no merit for small merchants like us to keep the shops open after 10pm.
Victor, a 55 year old employee who works at a Watch Boutique in a premium mall in Velachery is ecstatic. “Many of our customers prefer top shop in anonymity or when crowds are fewer. After Evening show movies, we get 1-2 customers almost every weekday who genuinely visit to buy premium watches. Now with this notification, we can keep the stores open till midnight, since the food courts and restaurants are buzzing”. Ask him if his staff will operate in shifts, he says most customers for his category do not arrive until 1pm, so they could open the shops after 12 noon, he reckons.
Muthiah, a septuagenarian grocer in Nanganallur and his sons run 4 grocery retail shops within a 5year sq.km radius. He feels this model is very international and doesn’t really impact food and grocery shopping which is 60% planned purchase and 40% impulse. Even the large format chains like Reliance and D’Mart will not see crowds coming in after dinner like we see in the Middle East or at Mustafa in Singapore, says Muthiah who migrated to the erstwhile Madras with his parents as a refugee from neighbouring Ceylon 5 decades back. He feels it could be a boon to the large format stores in T. Nagar, Pallavaram and Velachery where crowds start to throng from 8am onwards during weekends.
Raghuram. S, category manager of a leading apparel Department Store chain (requested not to reveal his company’s name) feels this would be a boon for the 6 Malls in Chennai especially which could see a steady flow of customers in the late nights, especially during weekends. “On Friday and Saturday, there is merit in keeping the stores open at least until 12 midnight, as many shoppers drop off after browsing for a while during the peak hours unable to get staff attention or use trial rooms. They proceed for dinner and never come back. This move will help us convert more browsers to buyers, as the crowds would be fewer after 10pm”.
This idea as first rolled out in 2019 by the State and right after the country was swamped with the Covid-19 outbreak which pushed several retail business out of the fray. We need to wait and watch if this official notification could make any difference to businesses. The real outcome would come only during the festival shopping period in October ahead of the Deepavali festival.