They find it difficult to meet the huge demand from residents trapped at home
With the restriction in outdoor movement of people due to the 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for home delivery of groceries across the city is on the rise.
While residents complain that grocery stores are irregular in delivering products at home, store owners say they receive hundreds of orders every day and are under-resourced to attend to all of them within a given time.
Earlier, Madurai Corporation had released a list 30 grocery stores from across the city which will deliver products at the doorstep. Customers can make a call to place the order and the products would be delivered the next day.
However, the mobile numbers are usually busy or they are not reachable, complains R. Jeyaprakash of Kannanendhal. “Even when we place the order, the store owners say many products are not available,” he says.
R. Jayachitra of Uthangudi complains that only orders above ₹ 2,000 are accepted for home delivery by a nearby grocery store. “Even at local small-scale grocery stores, the prices of pulses are being sold at a rate higher than the fixed maximum retail price,” she rues.
On the other hand, the grocery stores are overburdened and under-staffed to meet the growing demand. A a staff from the K.K. Nagar branch of Reliance Fresh says, “Each day we attend to 400 phone calls till 11 p.m., the reason why customers find our lines busy.”
‘Stopped taking orders’
Ashiq, store manager of Vasantham Stores ar Koodal Nagar, says that with three delivery vehicles they can deliver only 50% of the orders. “We have stopped taking orders for the last two days as we already have around 150 pending deliveries. Due to the lockdown, we are unable to replenish many branded products,” he says.
Some of the residents say one way to tackle the problem will be to accept orders through Whatsapp and encourage digital payment. Then customers can pick up the take-away grocery bag from the departmental stores. For those who cannot come to the shop, they can be delivered at home, suggests a shopkeeper.
V.P. Manikandan of S.S. Colony suggests that like vegetables, groceries can also be sold through mobile vending outlets.. “Residents must also understand the situation and avoid hoarding essential groceries,” he says.
Corporation Commissioner S. Visakan says they are taking many initiatives to ensure that residents can easily buy fruits and vegetables. “After the successful sales of vegetable bags at ₹200, we have decided to introduce another pack for ₹100 to expand the service. We are also planning to facilitate selling of fruit bags for ₹100,” he says.
“People must understand the gravity of the pandemic and can only visit nearby shops to buy essential groceries,” he says.
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