As traditional retail shops flounder, department stores thrives in East

  • business opportunity
- BED RAJ PAUDEL, ITHARI

Jan 20, 2018-

At a time when traditional retail stores are floundering, department stores have emerged as the shoppers choice in the eastern region-and their business is booming. A large number of department stores have come into operation in various urban centres of Province No 1 and their customer numbers are increasing daily.  

Gita Shrestha, a local of Itahari-8, avoids visiting local shops nowadays. Instead, she purchases daily essential goods from the department stores at a reasonable price. Many consumers like Shrestha have switched to department stores as they can save time while buying goods under a single roof. Besides, they don’t have to haggle over prices. 

Gorkha Department Store, one of the oldest and popular stores in Ithari even sells vegetables produced by the store itself. 

The growth in customers preferring to shop at department stores has encouraged new players to make their foray in the market. 

There are 60 small and big department stores currently operating in the eastern region. Bal Ram Acharya, owner of Gorkha Department Store, said that more than 90,000 customers visit such stores daily. 

An estimated Rs19.20 billion has already been invested in department stores. Investment ranges from Rs4 million to Rs2 billion.

Department stores house goods like beverages, beauty products, electronic items, readymade clothes, shoes, expensive jewelleries, kitchen wares, and many more. 

Puja Rai, a resident of Ithari, said that proliferation of stores have benefited consumers with various options. “If I don’t get an item at one store, I have another choice as well.” 

There are four department stores in Ithari-Gorkha, Bhupu Gorkha, Panda and Sunrise-departmental stores. Bhupu Gorkha and Sunrise have been operating since a long time. Gorkha is the largest in term of retail items. Panda is also increasingly gaining a sizable customer market share.

Apart from Ithari, a number of stores have been opened in other location such as Dharan, Biratnagar, Belbari, Birat Chowk, Pathri, Urlabari and Letang of Morang. Likewise, stores have been thriving at Damak and Birtamode in Jhapa district. 

Such stores have been opened in the hill district like Ilam and Panchthar. Gorkha has set up its branch in Pathri, Birat Chowk and Damak and is planning to open in Dharan this month. 

Nepal Bazaar, a store opened seven years ago in Biratnagar, currently operates five branches. It has gained wide popularity in a short span of time.

Manoj Bikram Shah, managing director of Nepal Bazaar, said entrepreneurs like him took a big challenge to open the department store as shoppers normally prefer crossing the Indian border to buy goods. But his challenge has yielded him good results. The store has been attracting 3,000-4,000 customers daily. It has more than 500,000 items for sale.

Dev Kala Acharya of Bayerban-8 said that department stores have provided reprieve for household people like her. She had to wait in queue for hours to buy goods in retail shops. Bargaining over prices was another problem. The mushrooming department stores have also been providing job opportunities for many. An estimated 15,000 individuals are employed by such stores in Province No. 1.

Supermarket chain-Bhatbhateni Super Market in Dharan, has been receiving 1,500 to 2,000 visitors daily. It has more than 10,000 goods to offer. During holidays, the store gets more than double customers.  

Surekha Mishra, manager of Bhatbhateni Super Market, said normally customers visit the stores to compare prices first. “The next time they visit the store to actually buy goods.” 

Raj Kumar Lohani, proprietor of Panda Department Store, said he previously had worked at a department store abroad. He is now utilizing his long experience in his own store. Lohani has invested Rs4 million in the store. 

Published: 20-01-2018 08:30

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