Hawkers’ sales down by 70-80% due to demonetisation (Lead, with correction in 8th para)

Kolkata, Nov 18 (IANS) The daily sales of hawkers across India has come down by 70-80 per cent after the demonetisation move, their union said on Friday.

“There are about 4 to 4.5 crore hawkers in India. Their daily business (sales) has been down by 70-80 per cent,” said the Hawkers Sangram Committee’s Joint Secretary Murad Hossain.

“Based on the feedback from the hawkers that we have got across major cities in India, the daily average sales have come down to Rs 300-400 while their average sales were around Rs 2,000 a day before the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” he added.

Hossain said people were forced to buy goods from modern retail stores and online retailers due to demonetisation.

According to the hawkers unions’ survey, the annual turnover of hawkers’ in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata was around Rs 25,000 crore, he added.

Leaders of hawkers unions said that even after financial inclusion, Indian trade has continued to remain “post-paid and hard cash driven”.

The informal economy of this country, which employs roughly 93 per cent of India’s working class, has been impoverished, the hawkers’ union said.

“Around 50 per cent of the street vendors of India do not have bank accounts. A sizable section of street vendors can access banks only at their home towns. They need supply of cash from the last day’s transaction to start a new cycle in the morning,” Hossain said.

“Demonetisation of high currency notes will not be able to address black money issue but it will put a challenge before the banking industry. Bank’s burden of non-performing assets will turn to burden of deposits. With a huge surge in deposits in banks, their interest payment obligation will rise and at the same time, banks are not able to disburse loans,” said economist Dipankar Dey, who is supporting the cause of hawkers.