There is so much talk about FDI in retail and the upcoming possibility of Walmart’s entry in this space and the impact it will have on small retailers and farmers. Despite the plethora of pro’s and con’s and the huge amount of debate in the media. A simple event set me thinking. We wanted to buy a couple of large grain storage bins. As kids we had been accustomed to seeing parents storing food grains in traditional tin bins, however, we have been searching for slightly larger plastic air tight containers.
Surprisingly, we didn’t go to the local market in Shivajinagar or Chikpet (in Bangalore) but started our search with the Bharati-Walmart’ Easy Day. Not finding what we were looking for, someone suggested us to check out another large retailer Metro. We usually buy stuff such as fruits and vegetables from push cart vendors and groceries from small businesses nearby, that still doesn’t deter us from foraying to large retailers such as FoodWorld, EasyDay etc from time to time. What astonished me, in this case, was the fact that our first point of stop wasn’t the local shops, but the largest retail store in the neighborhood. Says so much about the convenience and consequently our changed buying habits. When I started asking around, the local businesses and markets did not even figure in the answers I got.
Will the entry of Walmart impact small businesses? Undoubtedly.
Irrespective of the broader economic impact of presence of FDI in retail, the small businesses will suffer. In any case, the small businesses are already impacted without even the presence of giants such as Walmart and it may probably get worse when they open.
Maybe the only way out is for us to become more conscious consumers.