Walmart in India?

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To boost India’s retail economy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced last month that for the first time big foreign companies like Wal-Mart and Tesco could open retail stores in India.

The decision generated big controversy and lots of protests, including burning effigy and local retail shop strike, have been taking place for the last couple of weeks throughout the country.  The opposition says that these big retailers will destroy small local shops and it will jeopardize the livelihoods of farmers and traders.

Supporters insist that farmers will be better off with big chain retailers because they will receive higher prices for their products and more volumes.

To me, I don’t see too much reason for small local shops to be worried because it seems quite difficult for those big superstores to penetrate the local market. From my experience of living in Mumbai, the city is so congested and there are no spaces to build giant stores like Walmart anyway. It can only operate in suburbs so only those who have a car can take advantage of it and the majority of the population would still have to rely on local shops. The local shops exist in every neighborhood and people can buy pretty much everything you need steps away from the house. India has a totally different background from the U.S. which is a car-dependent society.

Well, needless to say, for foreigners like me who are used to doing one-stop shopping once a week, it would make the life so much easier to have multi-brand retailers or a big supermarket though…







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