CAIT petitions Goyal against foreign e-commerce firms

Retailers association CAIT has petitioned Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal against foreign e-commerce companies allegedly flouting lockdown norms to deliver non-essential items and unfairly gaining market share at the cost of small merchants.

In a two-page letter to Goyal, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) national general secretary Praveen Khandelwal alleged that Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart were making ‘illegitimate financial gains’ by supplying non-essential items such as mobile phones, kitchen appliances, electronics and accessories during the lockdown.

Amazon and Flipkart did not immediately comment on the CAIT allegations.

Local lockdowns imposed in several parts of the country to contain the spread of COVID infection provide for the delivery of only essential items.

‘The pandemic has hit the retail industry hard and since 2020, the industry has seen major upheavals. It is surprising to observe that while small and medium-sized businesses (kiranas) are languishing, foreign e-commerce companies are growing exponentially at the cost of small business,’ CAIT said.

While restrictions imposed by the state governments to check the spread of COVID has meant that physical stores are not allowed to operate at all times, foreign e-commerce companies are delivering mobile phones, it said.

Quoting RedSeer Consultancy, CAIT said the e-commerce industry made sales of over USD 8.3 billion in 2020 compared to USD 5 billion in the previous year.

‘It is important to prohibit these foreign e-commerce entities from gaining market share at the cost and life of small and medium kirana stores in India because Kirana stores have formed the backbone of the industry over the years,’ it said.

‘We pray for immediate action prohibiting these foreign e-commerce entities from ruthlessly destroying the Indian retail sector with their deep discounting and predatory pricing mechanism and trampling the lives of over 40 crore Indians.’ It also urged Goyal to issue guidelines on ‘what is permitted and prohibited for market e-commerce entities.’ PTI

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