The po­ten­tial of weekly bazaars

Enterprise - - Contents -

Through­out the coun­try and at a num­ber of lo­ca­tions in Is­lam­abad, La­hore and Karachi, semi-per­ma­nent weekly bazaars ( Juma Bazaar, Budh Bazaar and It­waar Bazaar) are a reg­u­lar fea­ture. While there is a re­mark­able di­ver­sity in these mar­kets, their enor­mous po­ten­tial has yet to be ex­ploited. Though tem­po­rary, the weekly mar­kets are a per­ma­nent source of liveli­hood for a vast num­ber of ven­dors and stake­hold­ers. How­ever, there is a need to up­scale these mar­kets in com­pli­ance with the con­tem­po­rary ur­ban environment.

As a gen­eral prac­tice the weekly bazaars are set up on Tues­days, Fri­days and Sun­days. But ven­dors have been found to ex­tend sales to other days of the week as well for more in­come op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The weekly bazaars re­ceive about 50 per­cent of buy­ers from sur­round­ing ar­eas who come to buy veg­eta­bles, fruit, poul­try, fish, gro­cery, uten­sils, fab­rics, ready­made gar­ments, sec­ond-hand clothes and shoes, cos­met­ics, plas­ticware, small house­hold items, hand­i­crafts, dec­o­ra­tion items and ar­ti­fi­cial jew­ellery.

It may be re­called that weekly bazaars have made a place in the re­tail sec­tor only through com­pet­i­tive pric­ing. It is in their own in­ter­est to closely mon­i­tor and en­force fair prices and qual­ity of goods. Most ven­dors set­ting up stalls in weekly mar­kets ad­just their pric­ing ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal­ity where the mar­ket is set up.

There are a num­ber of ad­van­tages for small busi­ness own­ers and ven­dors in sell­ing at the weekly bazaars. Hav­ing no out­lets of their own, they can af­ford to sell at rel­a­tively low prices. For ex­am­ple, a doll maker sells a doll at Rs. 4 to a lo­cal ven­dor who sells it on­wards at Rs. 25, whereas, the weekly mar­ket is an or­ga­nized plat­form for such small scale pro­duc­ers who sell their prod­ucts at lower profit mar­gins.

The ad­van­tage of a semi-open air weekly bazaar is that cus­tomers of all back­grounds are able to shop due to the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of a con­ve­nient and cen­tral place. If high-end goods and items are pro­moted through weekly bazaar at sub­si­dized rates, the lower mid­dle class could be at­tracted to such items and the newly bur­geon­ing mid­dle class can also be pro­vided with a vast ar­ray of util­ity ar­ti­cles. Even big­ger brands may go for this op­por­tu­nity.

A num­ber of mea­sures can be taken for scal­ing up these weekly mar­kets. The de­sign and set­ting up of stalls can be done skill­fully to en­sure func­tion­al­ity for op­ti­mum com­mer­cial at­trac­tion. A co­op­er­a­tive agree­ment be­tween the man­age­ment of the bazaar, the shop­keep­ers as­so­ci­a­tions and consumer rights groups may be formed to en­force a de­pend­able sup­ply sys­tem for fair priced goods. Mea­sures against pick-pock­et­ing and se­cu­rity, es­pe­cially for wom­en­folk, must be en­sured.

In­tro­duc­tion of bank­ing kiosks and ATM and credit card fa­cil­i­ties can fur­ther add to the util­ity of these weekly mar­kets. Govern­ment sub­si­dies such as Ra­madan or Eid pack­ages of­fered through Util­ity Stores can be ex­panded more con­ve­niently, if chan­nel­ized though these mar­ket set­ups.

The food and crafts seg­ment can at­tract do­mes­tic and for­eign tourists. Stu­dents can also come to these mar­kets to study lo­cal brands, consumer habits and sell­ing trends. More­over, de­sign­ers, whole­salers and ex­porters may uti­lize the mar­kets as a po­ten­tial net­work­ing spot.

The govern­ment needs to pre­pare a plan for re­duc­ing high trans­port costs, rental costs for stor­age of goods and se­cu­rity and safety mea­sures for the ven­dors and the pub­lic. Rental struc­tures, pub­lic­ity bud­gets, lay­out plans, fa­cil­i­ties, pro­posed sales and ben­e­fits can all be in­cluded in a com­pre­hen­sive con­cept plan. Ad­her­ence to aes­thet­ics, ad­e­quate fo­liage, hy­gienic con­ve­nience fa­cil­i­ties and an in­te­grated de­vel­op­men­tal ap­proach can serve as con­sid­er­able im­prove­ments for the weekly mar­kets.

At these mar­kets cus­tomers of­ten com­plain about price and qual­ity anom­alies. To counter this, if ex­ten­sive pub­lic­ity is done on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and in­creased dur­ing fes­tive sea­sons, the bazaar will be well-known and es­tab­lished in the minds of the cus­tomers. This will al­low the peo­ple from other cities as well as for­eign tourists to start pre­fer­ring the weekly bazaars for their ba­sic shop­ping. Even­tu­ally the qual­ity of prod­ucts will rise and new stan­dards will be set for a healthy do­mes­tic econ­omy. Also, it is very im­por­tant to pub­li­cize the mar­ket among crafts­men, vol­un­tary or­ga­ni­za­tions and other de­vel­op­ment and in­come gen­er­a­tion bod­ies, giv­ing them the mes­sage to ‘come and sell’, be­cause only ‘come and buy’ pub­lic­ity is not good mar­ket­ing

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