BANKING TRADE AND COMMERCE
During the last few years considerable expansion is witnessed
in the number and turnover of retail shops both in the rural and urban areas. In rural areas where people formerly depended for their daily needs of consumption on weekly and periodical bazars and fairs, a number of retail shop dealing in groceries, cloth, pan-bidi, etc., have sprung up. The growth of retail shops is more marked in urban and semi-urban places like Amravati, Badnera, Achalpur, Morshi, Chandur Bazar, etc. These shops provide a link between the consumer and the wholesaler and are
fairly distributed in the various wards and peths of these towns.
Their stock-in-trade is usually limited and is immediately
replaced when goods are sold out.
Amravati is a large cotton market and a growing industrial
centre. Railways and roads running in different directions connect it with the outlying areas of the district and, therefore, the town serves as an assembling and distributing centre. Achalpur, Badnera and Anjangaon Surji stand next in importance, in population, trade and industrial activity. There is, therefore, a large number of retail shops catering to the needs of the growing population in these towns.
The Shops and Establishments Act is not yet made applicable to the retail shops in the municipal areas of the district. A record of the distribution of the various retail shops is, therefore, not available. A survey of the retail establishments, carried out' at different places in the district, however, reveals some broad facts about their distribution, turnover, seasonal variations in business, etc.
Grocery, pan-bidi, cloth, coal and wood and vegetable shops are numerous and are evenly distributed in almost all the localities and wards. Bicycle being a convenient mode of transport, a large number of cycle shops (doing hire and repair business) are found in most of the wards. Shops dealing in medicine, stationery, footwear, general merchandise, sweetmeats, fruits, etc. do not feature in day-to-day life and are thus not so well dispersed as those of the first group. Still other kinds of shops dealing in articles of seasonal or less regular demand, e.g., jewellery, utensils, glassware, hardware, building material, etc. are seen to be concentrated in particular localities, while location of shops selling mutton, fish, etc. in a few places is mainly due to the municipal regulations.
The demand in remote villages being limited, retail shops belonging to any and every category are not to be met with at such places. There, retail shops do combined business selling daily necessities such as grocery, cloth, wood and fuel, pan-bidi, cloth, stationery, etc. These shops generally do good trade from October to June. The peak season is reached during festivals. The value of the stock-in-trade depends on the business and varies considerably from a couple of hundred rupees to scores of thousands in case of a distant village shop and a shop located in a busy town.
The retailers usually buy from the wholesalers in the town but some trade directly with the distant merchants especially for the purchase of cloth, grains, hardware, etc., Retail sales are usually on cash basis. However, a number of shop-keepers extend credit facilities to their customers.
Amravati district has fertile soil which yields a wide variety of crops. Thus grains are generally bought at the wholesale trade centres of the district, viz., Amravati, Chandur Bazar, Anjangaon, Morshi, Achalpur, etc. and only a few merchants buy
from outside. Cloth merchants usually purchase their require-ments through local agents of the various textile mills or from
wholesale traders in the district. Only merchants doing business on a large scale have connections with outside merchants at the
textile centres of Bombay, Nagpur, Sholapur and Madras. Saris are usually brought from Nagpur, Ichalkaranji, Malegaon,
Coimbatore and Indore. Hosiery goods are brought directly from Bombay, Poona, Bangalore and Amravati. Petty shop-keepers buy from the wholesalers in the district. Wood and charcoal are generally purchased from the minor forest area of the district lying on the outskirts of the main forest area (Melghat tahsil). The Melghat tahsil of the district has rich teak which is sold at the timber shops in the district. Fruits and vegetables are brought from the adjoining rural areas as also from Poona, Nasik, Nagpur and Ratnagiri. Hardware such as iron sheets, bars, screws, paints, tiles and cement are brought from Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi. With the general increase in the building activity, there is an expansion of this business in recent times.
Medicine shops generally do good business. The shops deal in a variety of medicines and drugs, allopathic, ayurvedic and other indigenous and foreign as well. The stocks are often brought from Nagpur, Bombay, Calcutta, Baroda, etc. Small dealers purchase their stocks at Amravati. The bicycle shops are spread throughout the district doing repair and hire business. Bombay, Madras, Delhi are the main stocking centres from where new bicycles are brought for sale.
Stationery articles are mainly brought from Bombay, Poona, Delhi and Bhagalpur; paper from Titaghar; cutlery from Bombay and toys and presentation articles from Delhi, Mysore and Bombay. Footwear and leather goods are chiefly brought from Kanpur and Calcutta.
The retailers mostly carry on their business on credit, paying off the wholesalers when the goods are sold out. Sometimes the adtyas (commission agents) arrange for the money on commission basis.
Dispersion of shops.
The general dispersion of retail shops exhibits certain peculiar features. The shops selling goods of daily use like grain, grocery, pan and bidis, cloth and hosiery, coal, wood and fuel, cycle shops and vegetables stalls are fairly distributed in all the wards and localities. Shops dealing in books and stationery, footwear, sweet-meats, drugs and medicines are not so well dispersed. Still others like metal utensils, potteries, glassware, hardware, perfumes, building material, etc. have each their own particular localities where they are found in large numbers. Shops selling mutton, beef, fish, eggs, etc. are restricted to certain localities under the municipal regulations.
The grocery group occupies a prominent place among the
retail shops in respect of the consumers' wants and are found to be evenly distributed. All sorts of cereals, pulses, gur, sugar, oil, ghee, spices, condiments, tea, coffee and other grocery articles
are kept for sale. The stock-in-trade of individual shops varies in value by a wide range from about Rs. 100 to even over
a lakh of rupees depending upon the urban or rural character of the shop and the existing demand. A majority of the shops
are, however, small with a stock worth about Rs. 200 to
Rs. 1,000. The grocery articles are generally bought at the wholesale trade centres of the district, viz., Amravati, Chandur
Bazar, Anjangaon, Morshi, Achalpur, etc., while a few shopkeepers have direct connections with the outside merchants. Usually shop-keepers buy their stock on credit and settle the bills within three or four weeks. Servants are generally employed for handling and weighing commodities. The larger shopkeepers sometimes engage clerks and accountants for maintaining accounts books. Sales shrink during the rainy season and at the end of each month. The business is brisk during the dry season and especially so during festivals and marriage season.
Pan, Bidi, Cigarettes and Tobacco.
Next in importance to shops selling grocery are the pan-bidi shops. Their number is the largest of all the groups. They are seen to be distributed all over. Almost all of these establishments are managed single-handed. Pan, bidis, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, betel-nuts, catechu and lime (chuna) are the main articles for sale. The value of the stock-in-trade generally varies between Rs. 10 and Rs. 500. The business is generally slack during the rainy season and brisk on Sundays and holidays. Most of the shop-keepers buy from the wholesale dealers in the district, while some have direct contacts with outside merchants. A large number of establishments themselves manufacture bidis for sale.
Cloth, Hosiery and Ready-made Clothes.
The cloth shops sell all kinds of textiles, cotton, woollen, silk,
nylon, etc. Shirtings, coatings, saris (both 5 and 9 yds.), dhotis.
chaddars, shawls, etc., are kept at such shops. A majority of the
shop-keepers purchase their requirements through the local agents of the various textile mills or from the wholesale traders in the district. The value of the stock-in-trade of the majority of the shops is from Rs. 500 to Rs. 5,000. However, the shops in towns and cities stock goods worth from Rs. 10,000 to over Rs. 1,00,000. Big shops employ salesmen and clerks. As in the case of other shops the business is generally slack during rainy season. There is a heavy rush during festivities and the marriage season.
At urban centres shops specialising in the sale of hosiery and ready-made clothes are to be found. In rural places, however, cloth shops sell these goods to augment the total sales. The hosiery goods and ready-made clothes are brought directly from Bombay, Poona, Bangalore, Amravati, etc. Petty shop-keepers buy from the wholesalers in the district.
Wood and Fuel.
Wood and fuel shops sell firewood, charcoal, dried dung-cakes and in some cases coal and coke. A large quantity of fuel
is collected from the minor forest area of the district which lies on the outskirts of the main forest area (Melghat and in the
plain areas of the district). The timher shops get their teak
from the Melghat tahsil which has rich teak forests. The wood
and fuel shops are found in all the localities while timher shops
are few and far between.
People generally store firewood and coal for use during monsoon just before the rains. Consequently the trade is brisk at that time. There is a substantial demand for timber when the constructional activity is in full swing.
Fruits and Vegetables.
The perishable nature of the goods sold and the general
absence of cold storage facilities restrict the size of the shops dealing in fruits and vegetables. The stock is obtained from the adjoining rural areas and from the vegetables and fruit growing centres like Poona, Nasik, Nagpur, Ratnagiri, etc. The kinds of fruits and vegetables sold depend upon the season in which they are produced. As a rule vegetable shops are more evenly spread.
Hardware and Building Material.
With a general increase in the building activity, the number of shops in this category has increased. These arc mainly to be found in all the important towns and they deal in cement, timher, iron sheets, hars, screws, paints and tiles. Timher is chiefly bought locally. Other goods are brought from Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, etc. The stocking of these goods requires large capital. The retailers buy directly from outside merchants or from the wholesale dealers at important centres of the district. Medicines and Drugs.
With the rising general consciousness about health and
hygiene, a number of drug shops are making appearance and doing thriving business. The shops deal in a variety of medicines and drugs, allopathic, ayurvedic and other indigenous and foreign medicines. The medicines are often brought from Nagpur, Bombay, Calcutta, Baroda, etc. Most of the dealers in smaller towns purchase their goods from Amravati.
Bicycles being a popular and convenient means of transport
at the district places, there are quite a number of shops in the important towns of the district, viz., Amravati, Badnera, Achal-pur, Morshi and Chandur Bazar. These shop-keepers have connections with the wholesale merchants of Bombay. Some of the shops keep bicycles for hire also.
Stationery, Cutlery, Bangles, Provisions, Footwear, etc.
The number of shops of this category show a constant rise in
response to the rising demand for such articles. These shops
specialise in the sale of stationery, toilet articles, bangles, cutlery,
provisions, toys, footwear, presentation articles, etc. Stationery
articles are brought mainly from Bombay, Delhi, Poona and
Bhagalpur; paper from Titaghar and cutlery and provision
goods from Bombay. Toys and presentation articles are brought
from Delhi, Mysore and Bombay. Footwear and leather goods
are chiefly brought from Kanpur and Calcutta.
Hawkers sell a variety of goods such as vegetables and fruits,
sprouted grains, toys and sweets, confectionery, cutlery, oil, ghee and kerosene. They carry goods on their persons in baskets or on hand-carts and sell them from house to house. The sale of goods is mostly on cash basis.
Hawkers generally buy their goods from wholesalers and
retailers in towns. Amravati, Achalpur City and Achalpur Civil
Station and Shendurjana municipalities in the district have introduced the system of licensing of hawkers. The number of
hawkers as reported by the different municipalities in 1961-62 was as follows: Amravati 290; Achalpur City 16; Achalpur Civil Station, 74; Shendurjana, 80 and Chandur Bazar, 2. Badnera municipality did not report any hawkers. However, hawkers from Amravati go to Badnera on bazar days, viz., Monday and Friday. The municipalities at Anjangaon Surji, Morshi, Warud and Chikhaldara also did not report any hawkers in their respective areas.