MARGAO: Reeling under losses, shop owners in Margao are voicing their anger and frustration over the proliferation of roadside businesses in the town, coupled with mounting parking issues, which they feel are driving customers away from the once-vibrant Municipal market.
One woman vendor, whose family has operated a shop in Margao market for over 80 years, lamented that this year, her business has hit an all-time low, a stark departure from the last eight decades of success. She emphasised that the main Margao market has seen a significant decline in foot traffic due to the emergence of numerous roadside shops, which attract customers with convenience and affordability.
“This has never happened in the last eight decades,” she asserted. “People are not coming into the main Margao market since there are a lot of roadside shops which have come up on the pavements, and people tend to buy from there. They get all the stuff from the roadside hawkers, which is easier for them,” she complained, pointing out that traditional merchants are uncertain about the future of their businesses, despite faithfully paying taxes.
Adding to their woes, some vendors highlighted that consumer demands for cheaper goods have further exacerbated the decline in sales. “Business had already taken a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic and it has showed no signs of recovery. Some days, we go hours without a single customer visit,” said another shop keeper at the New Market.
Many vendors attributed the decline in customer visits to the lack of parking spaces in the area. The Margao Municipal Council and the SGPDA (South Goa Planning and Development Authority) came under criticism for allowing parking areas to be converted into shops. Fearful of repercussions, people have remained silent on this issue, leaving traditional shop owners feeling abandoned.
The suffering is primarily endured by small vendors in the Margao Municipal Market, while large shops and malls appear to thrive in Margao. Shopkeepers claimed that ministers and politicians have not offered them support, compounding their challenges.
Furthermore, the market’s hygiene conditions were heavily criticized, with one vendor calling for immediate action to remove the dirt and garbage that has plagued the area.