Traders protest Walmart merger

Small traders and manufacturers from 21 associations protested the merger of Walmart and Flipkart at Masjid Bunder on Monday, calling it a matter of survival.

“Our basic demand is that Walmart should not come into retail,” Paras Shah, president of the Federation of Maharashtra Stationery Manufacturers and Traders Association, said. “Around 80% of small traders will be affected by them and it will lead to rampant unemployment.” Mr. Shah said retail giants like Walmart can incur losses for several years before they break even, an option traders do not have.

Kirit Rana, State president of the Confederation of All India Traders, said, “Unlike us, they also raise funds from the market. We take loans from banks and pay interest.” He said the government should create a level playing field for everyone. “Walmart will go the Uber way. They will sell goods at cheaper rates initially, and then start hiking their prices once small traders are wiped out,” he said.

A statement from Walmart said, “Our continued efforts have been to support the domestic manufacturing in India by sourcing locally from SME suppliers, small farmers and women-owned businesses. A clear testament of that is showcased in our merchandise, 95% of which comes from within the country.” It said the partnership with Flipkart will provide thousands of local suppliers and manufacturers access to consumers, boost local manufacturing, provide quality, affordable goods to customers, and create new skilled jobs.

Mr. Rana said the traders were not against technology, but that most small shops were providing services similar to e-commerce sites, such as home delivery. “We are protesting for our future generations. The government’s policies are making it impossible for younger generations to come into small trade and businesses, which have been carried out for years by their families,” he said.

Mr Shah said the traders are planning a bigger roadshow after seeking the requisite permissions.

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