Choking the Retail Sunrise

BS Opinion & Analysis : A sector that was to have created millions of new jobs in the country is reporting job losses before it even gets under way. Organised retail is still in its infancy — less than 4 per cent of the total shop space is accounted for by organised sector retailers. But what began as a protest against international chains coming into the country (the initial targets were Metro and Wal-Mart, though even Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets were subjected to attack), and which targeted the government’s policy on foreign investment, has metamorphosed now into opposition to organised retailing itself.

The result is a variant of the old argument that small-scale industry needs protection, and therefore that large industry should be kept out of dozens of industries. The “reservation” argument with respect to industry stands discredited and the government is eliminating such reservation in stages. It would be a pity if policy were now to create such artificial and indeed counter-productive distinctions when it comes to retailing.


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