The commercial establishments aren’t exactly gung-ho about this GO at the moment. While some say they will consider staying open for longer hours, others are yet to figure out the impact it will have on their businesses.
“This GO might not help small retailers; it will only benefit the MNCs. They have money power and manpower to run an extended show and with this order, they will rule over retail businesses. Traditionally, in Tamil Nadu, the retail segment is family-centered. It’s run by family members who take turns at the shops. I consider this an insidious move by the government to promote MNCs,” says Vellaiyan, chief of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam.
Jayantilal Challani, president, Madras’s Jewellers And Diamond Merchants Association, feels that this is a good move as it brings in an international shopping culture in the state. “In summer, stores don’t do any business in the day; there’s no return on investment as the flow of customers starts after sunset, and shops get really crowded as everyone wants to shop before the closing time of 9pm. If the timings are extended, it will not only make it easier for customers, it’s also going to be very positive in terms of revenue generation. So right now, our revenue is 10 per cent approx, and we can easily expect it to gradually climb up to 25 per cent or more, after the implementation of this GO. It will also create employment opportunities.”
Security will be a challenge
Almost all of them are worried about this aspect of their business. “In terms of challenges, the foremost one is that of security. It’s really important to sort this before we adapt to this new change. Transportation is also going to be challenging. If these two issues are also addressed in the GO, then it’ll be easy for customers to move around easily,” says Challani.
Hemanth, owner, Nakoda Thangamaligai, says, “I don’t think it will be safe for jewellery shops to be open beyond 9pm. Even if we take strict security measures, there’s always a risk factor.” “Small retailers might not be in a position to keep the shops open at night, whereas big shops can afford security personnel and make other infrastructural changes easily. For small-timers, night time is not safe,” adds Vellaiyan.
How will it be profitable?
Many cities in TN abound in small-time retailers and vendors, who have fixed clientele. How will it benefit us, they ask? “My customers are housewives and working professionals who buy vegetables and grocery items either early in the day or while returning home from work. So, I don’t see any increase in sales if I keep my shop open through the night. Also, our day starts as early as 3am because we go to Koyambedu to pick up fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers and then open our shop by 6am. And no one is interested in buying wilting vegetables beyond 8pm. Since I also sell rice, pulses and other household items, I can maybe keep my shop open till 11pm. Beyond that, I think it will only be a loss-incurring decision because I need to hire more people to run a shift system, pay my employees and also cover overhead costs,” opines Murugavel K, who runs a palasarakku kadai in Saidapet. Even Varun Ramesh, Partner, Pothys, takes Murugavel’s side when he says, “It might benefit F&B stores. And that too, only in select cities in the state like Chennai, where the IT sector is big. This move won’t make much of an impact in business in smaller places like Madurai, Tirunelveli, Erode, etc. So, I will personally not consider a longer-working duration for my stores, except perhaps, during festival season or when there’s a flash sale going on. This idea of 24X7 retail outlets has already been tried out in Maharashtra and even in a big city like Mumbai, it didn’t see a great response.”
An extended closing time, perhaps?
“It isn’t going to make much of an impact in the immediate future, but in the next five to ten years, it will see good response. It’s a welcome move. The immediate beneficiaries of this move will be restaurants. According to me, India isn’t ready for a 24×7 lifestyle, yet. So, I won’t consider a full-nighter for my stores, but I will definitely go for longer duration of working hours in certain areas in the city which have the potential to get us good business even at 1am, especially stores on arterial roads. But the challenge is to have enough security on the roads during those late hours,” says Sunil Sanklecha, Founder and Managing Partner, Nuts n Spices.
We will open some outlets: Restaurateurs
Restaurateurs are already planning how to go about it! “We are planning to open our restaurants for 24×7 wherever the traffic is higher. On a pilot run, we will see the outlets that receive higher footfall like in the IT areas and public transport areas like bus depots, railways station, airport and highway. We will come to the city ones later,” says Vishnu Shankar, director, A2B. And Charles Vasanthakumar, Restaurant consultant, opines, “They won’t open all the restaurants 24×7. They might keep the ones in locations like Anna Nagar, Ashok Nagar, OMR, ECR open. So, if one brand has 40 restaurants in the city, they cannot open all of them, they will perhaps operate four or five restaurants. They will select the specific location where the footfall is higher.”
Shoppers are ready!
“These days a large number of people work during the night. This move will be very useful for them. Dubai, New York and many other cities around the world have shops functioning round the clock. Our city is a big metro and a hub for medical tourism and this move is a welcome one. Also, if most shops are open in the night, I don’t think there will be any security issues, but the govt should make it clear whether TASMAC is allowed to function throughout the night or not,” says Dheenadayalan, a radio professional. “Chennai will now truly become a global city! I shifted base to Chennai from Las Vegas, where shops would be open well into the night. But here, I found that most retails, even bigger chains, would shut by maximum 10pm, and it was a big bummer for me because I would get free from office only after 8pm. There have been instances when I’ve had to take permission to buy gym and sports accessories because the shop would close by the time I make it there. If the retail outlets — at least major apparel and sporting brands — stay open the whole day, it makes life easier for us,” says a happy Karunya Srikanth, investment banker. Adds Sushma, a working professional, “It comes as a blessing for shopaholics like me. Now, I can shop in peace after work without worrying about the store timings. All my midnight cravings can be full-filled without waiting for the store to be opened the next day. Can’t really believe that this is finally happening in Chennai. It is a dream come true.”
We go 24×7
The Tamil Nadu government has issued a Government Order (GO) permitting all shops and establishments in the state to remain open 24×7 — for a period of three years as of now, with a few conditions
Even the cops are worried about the security!
This will make things hectic
It’s definitely going to be more work for the police. Sometimes, when there’s a need, we do double shifts. This is going to make things even more hectic. What’s more worrying is that it’ll be a tough task to keep crime rate under check. Now, when you confront someone at night, he will have a readymade answer, ‘I’ve come to shop’.
— A cop from the Kotturpuram Police Station
More work for us
Job opportunities will increase, for sure. But so will criminal activities. We will have to increase night patrol, and station more beat cops. It’s more work for us!
— A cop on duty at T Nagar
Taxi fares might come down
If we have more customers during the night on a regular basis, we will definitely come down to day tariff. The reason why the taxi services have extra night charges is because there are less customers. Once that increases, it will benefit us and as will be less traffic during that time, chances are we will be able to cover more ground. But all this is arbitrary talk, we have to wait and see how this goes for some time before employing more drivers in the night.
Deepak U S, Red Taxi, Managing Partner
Currently, we function till 11pm. This order will give us those extra hours and business will definitely go up by 30 per cent. People returning from night shifts and late night movie shows will come for sure. We are planning to be open till 3am, and work in shifts so that the employees aren’t overworked. We will probably have less employees in the dull hours during the day and have more of them work in the night shift.
Managing Director, Tandoori Tonight
I don’t think it will benefit us, maybe for the food joints and other shops this rule can work but not for us. We will not be able to open jewellery shops till late night. Even though we can ask our staff to work in the night, supervision will become difficult in the night and you cannot guarantee late night purchases, especially for jewellery. They implemented this rule in the gulf countries and it didn’t work out, even for the supermarkets.
Chairman, Pavizham Jewellery
I work in an IT company in Echanari and my shift timing is 4 pm to 1 am. So, I will be leaving office at 1 and there will be hardly any shops on the way home, even getting tea is difficult. Though I am with my family, it is difficult to wake them up at 2 am for food. I am anticipating food outlets to be open till late in the night after this rule so that consumers like us can benefit. The only thing is we have to see how longer this can be done successfully. If it works it will be convenient for us.
It is not a very welcome one, for, it can only work a certain segment of shops like medical shops, apparel and restaurants. Trichy being a tier-2 city, we will also have to look at this from the consumers’ end. If shops are operating 24×7, the consumers should be free to shop anytime in the middle of the night… but the question is, is it safe? Do we have public transport facilities between 11pm and 6am? Ours is a fashion jewellery outlet, and we, employers, will have to provide our employees security because most are women. So, overall, this might not work for us.
Business Development Head, Kalyani Covering
Several factors need to be considered practically. Not all areas in a city or not all cities in our state enjoy 24 hours public movement and our state is not driven by tourism either. Welfare of employees must be maintained and security has to be provided for it to be safe and successful. In my opinion, hotels and restaurants can benefit, and we can remain open during festive seasons like Deepavali, Pongal and Ramzan, etc. But not daily.
Roshan Manavalan,Managing Director, Trichy Sarathas