The Government of India has recently extended the lockdown till May 17 after categorising districts into Red, Orange and Green zones. Moreover, due to lockdown relaxations in Orange and Green zones, e-commerce portals and retailers will be allowed to begin sales of non-essential goods in those zones following the government’s guidelines. This includes smartphone sales. Furthermore, retailers would also be allowed to open with certain restrictions and guidelines in some areas.
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), in a recent notification, said that the deliveries of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies, such as Flipkart and Amazon will be permitted starting from May 4th. It added that the operations will be allowed only between 7 AM and 7 PM in all areas. However, this relaxation is only for Green and Orange zones designated by the government. It said that there will be no movement of people into or out of containment zones within Red zones except for medical emergencies and essential goods.
This is a much-needed respite for not only companies such as e-commerce sites like Amazon, but Flipkart also, but also the common public draw close to 90% of sales from items like smartphones, Electronics and other apparels. While the companies welcome the move it is certainly not going to be a drastic change and is a slow step towards the revival of the economy once the current demand is analyzed.
However, companies are still not allowed to sell in Red zoned districts where their market seems to be huge. The ministry has clearly said that in red zoned containment areas, no products other than essential goods will be allowed for sale. Some of the cities in the list include Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad, all designated as red zones which account for more than 50-60% of sales.
Additionally, MHA has also said all standalone shops in residential complexes are permitted to sell both essential and non-essential items in urban areas. This, again includes smartphone sales. However, shops in urban areas, for non-essential goods, are not allowed in malls, markets and market complexes. Mobile phone retailers in the country include offline partners and brands like Apple, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Realme, have ascertained the same and asked the states to honour MHA guidelines in the process.
However, The India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA)has expressed concern about massive unfulfilled demand for mobile phones and mobile devices due to the firms being restricted to sell in Red zones which are metro cities mostly.
This move by the government is definitely welcoming to say the least as the restriction on sales has adversely affected both the companies and consumers leading to rise in demands even in tier two and three cities.