Industry representatives cautioned the current inventory with retailers may not last more than four or five days.
Retailers across the country could soon run out of stocks unless more trucks can be arranged to ferry these and more manpower can be found to handle the goods.
Industry representatives cautioned the current inventory with retailers may not last more than four or five days. With just about 10-15 % of the country’s fleet of trucks now on the road and 80% of the workforce back home in their villages, the supply of essentials continues to be disrupted.
Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general at the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), told FE the shortage of workers apart, traders and staff associated with delivery operations continue to find it hard to get curfew passes. “The system for issuing e-passes is not effective in all states and should be standardised,” Khandelwal said.
Pradeep Singal, chairman, All India Transporters’ Welfare Association (AITWA), told FE most truckers were back home but added state governments and local authorities are “proactively” trying to bring some of them back. Singal said the government’s directive allowing driving licences to be used as curfew passes is expected to ease the situation.
Pankaj Poddar, CEO at Cosmo Films, said the delays and difficulties faced by vendors of raw materials in securing local clearances was hindering production of packaging materials. Cosmo Films’ Gujarat plant — one of the three packaging units working at present — is operating at around 10% of capacity but it is unable to despatch products due to a shortage of staff and the lack of transport. Amrinder Singh, director, Bonn Group, which manufactures bakery products, said workers, including drivers and loaders, are expected to come back only gradually.
Meanwhile, online grocers are battling on by adding to their manpower at warehouses and increasing feet on the street. BigBasket has also partnered with Uber to deliver essentials to customers at their doorsteps. Grofers co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa tweeted the firm is setting up mini warehouses near the point of supplies to enable swift deliveries to customers. The first three stores have been launched in Gurgaon and Lucknow, the tweet said. According to a survey by LocalCircles, a community social media and consumer platform, about 70% of customers were able to find essential goods at local stores on April 5-6 compared to 62% during March 30-31. About 53% customers were able to find the same on e-commerce platforms on April 5-6 against 45% during March 30-31.