Non-essential items shortage in the market

Mobile phones and accessories, spare parts, construction materials and many other general consumer items are running out in market with the lockdown in India. The disruption in supply of goods and increased demand has also caused price fluctuations in the market.

Most mobile phone dealers and distributors in Thimphu stated that they are running out of stock. There are 10 phones or less in each mobile phone shop in Thimphu, and they are totally reliant on the local distributors for the supply of mobile phones.

According to Fone Zone, e-World, 8/11, ST Electronic, Mobile Gallery, Mobile Hospital, Apple Solutions and Lhendup Gasel Store, they are all out of mobile phones stock along with other popular items, like LCD replacement and tempered glass for phones, among other things.

Electronic repair shops are also out of common electronic repair parts and accessories. The repair shops worry about losing their customers coming for repairs in the long run.

Most grocery food items from Bangkok, such as yeast, snack items and utility items have run out in many shops.  The shopkeepers stated although there are certain items that consumers cannot do without, however, most of them are now adjusting their taste to what food items are available in the country.

Another area of concern is the lack of hardware and construction items. Some hardware dealers though have restocked the supplies and are ready for business.

There are also hardware shops that find it expensive to carry on doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic. A hardware shop owner said that he used to pay Nu 2 per 1 kilogram (kg) of load. And now he has to pay Nu 5 and more for 1 kg of load. Another hardware store owner said that he has incurred a great amount of cost for the goods transit from India as well as within Bhutan when compared to normal times.

Hardware shops in Thimphu like J.D Enterprise, Choki Enterprise, Druk Enterprise and some others were of the same opinion in terms of availability of materials.

“When we talk about availability, we have been receiving items, like plywood or water tanks and other items, however, the real matter is not about accessibility alone, but also in seeing the feasibility. As for us smaller business outlets, we cannot resort to bringing in truckloads of materials, which if not bought in bulk would cost unnecessarily extra for us. This is a resultant of the COVID-19 pandemic in our case,” one the owners said.

Due to COVID-19 lockdown in India and the border restrictions, transportation of goods have become a “no-preference” system as people cannot chose or demand products since the government cannot avail variety of options in terms of brand or type of products being brought into the country. One of the hardware owners said just a few dealers are providing supplies to them in during this difficult time.

He said that the usual items, like cutting wheel, planner machine, circular saw machine, angle grinder, Taparia tools, pipe fittings, screw, nuts and bolts are among the items that go unnoticed and cannot be brought in a truckload basis.

Sangay Enterprise said if the government could provide hardware storage facility in the country to make it more practical get in the consignments instead of waiting for the goods to come all the way from India. Disinfection of imported goods is being conducted by the border taskforce as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many hardware owners stated there has not been a significant drop in consumer demand even during the COVID-19 pandemic. They stated that there are many Indian workers in the country who visit the shops to purchase the hardware items.

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