Customers say goods cheaper in the market than at fair price shopsSupermarkets are wooing festive shoppers by offering their own discounts.
“There is no difference in buying at the fair price shop and at regular stores.” Moreover, the fair price shops have a limited inventory. “I was looking for beans, but they didn't have any.”
The Post encountered Sita Mishra as she was doing her shopping at Bhat Bhateni Supermarket in Tripureshwor. Teku resident Mishra said there were many supermarkets in the city making it easy to purchase goods. “They also provide discount offers, and the goods are cheaper than at the government-run fair price shops.”
Like Khadka and Mishra, many consumers have complained that prices of food items at the supermarkets in the Kathmandu Valley are lower than those at the government-run fair price shops.
Every year during festival time, the government opens fair price shops for the convenience of the people where state-owned Salt Trading Corporation offers subsidised goods at a discount.
The government maintains 73 fair price shops across the country including nine in the Kathmandu Valley. But this year, supermarkets are wooing festive customers by offering their own discounts, making products cheaper than at the government fair price shops.
Raj Kumar Shrestha, president of the Nepal Retailers’ Association, said many supermarkets were providing discounts of up to 10 percent on food items.
Bhat Bhateni Supermarket offers refined flour at Rs124 per 2 kg which costs Rs135 at the fair price shops. The price of split red lentil is Rs75 per kg at Big Mart while it costs Rs80 per kg at the government fair price shops.
Split black gram can be bought at Rs95 per kg at Big Mart while it costs Rs110 per kg at the fair price shops. The price of chickpeas at Bhat Bhateni is Rs120 per kg and Rs130 per kg at the fair price shops.
Turmeric powder is sold at Rs58 per 200 gram at Bhat Bhateni while the fair price shops charge Rs75. Similarly, sunflower oil is being offered at Rs141 per litre at Bhat Bhateni while it costs Rs148 at the fair price shops.
Big Mart offers DDC ghee at Rs800 per litre while it costs Rs850 at the fair price shops. Big Mart offers jeera masino rice at Rs1,499 for 25 kg while it cost Rs1,680 at the fair price shops.
Owing to the limited choice of goods and higher prices, there were few visitors at the fair price shop at Baggikhana, Singha Durbar on Thursday.
Bibek Dev, finance head at Big Mart, said that the Dashain discount is more of a brand promotion, it helps to increase market presence and boosts sales by increasing the flow of customers.
As the company purchases goods in bulk for the festival, it is able to offer food items at discounted rates, said Sabin Benjankar, sales manager at Bhat Bhateni Super Market. Similarly, the supermarket purchases many food items directly from the manufacturer, allowing it to keep prices low.
Benjankar said that customers were also buying essential items in large quantities. As the company offers kitchen items and garments at one place, most people choose supermarkets to do their grocery shopping.
Raj Kumar Shrestha, president of the Nepal Retailers’ Association, said the discount offers made by supermarkets had created price competitiveness in the market. Small retail shops are hit as they cannot provide discount prices.
Yogendra Gauchan, director general of the Department of Commerce, Supply and Consumer Protection Management, said the government requested private sector retail sellers to provide goods at discounted rates. “We also requested wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers to provide goods at discounted prices,” he said.
The government slashed sugar and salt prices, and supermarkets have followed suit. The government has coordinated with the private sector to provide Dashain discounts on food items, he said.