PUDUCHERRY: There has been a spurt in IMFL shops moving from the town to rural areas on the Puducherry-Tamil Nadu border. The trend is visible and significant although no exact numbers are available.
In the past one year as many as 10 to 12 shops from Anna Salai area alone shifted to various rural areas, said a liquor merchant. Diminishing business in town areas and availability of surplus business in the rural areas led to this trend, a liquor merchant told Express. The operating expenditure has gone up tremendously in the town areas and the volume of business has come down substantially, leading to highly reduced profit margins. The rural areas are providing greener pastures. Operation cost is lower and volume of business is higher, added the merchant.
Ever since the government enhanced the Value Added Tax (VAT), floating population which flocked to Puducherry came down and the liquor business in the cheaper and medium variety was hit. It worsened when government enhanced excise duty on liquor. Though liquor still remained cheaper as compared to the neighbouring States, the price difference was not very significant, which led to fewer of consumers from other States in all categories. In addition, the strict enforcement by Tamil Nadu government at checkposts, has tremendously cut down the bulk movement of liquor from Puducherry to other States.
In this scenario the government enhanced the liquor shops run by its corporations, PASIC, PAPSCO and Amudhasurabhi. Whatever business was available had to be shared and this led to the business nose-diving, said the liquor merchant.
On the other hand not only there were fewer shops in rural areas, but the opportunity for good business existed. People across the border would just travel by bus or walk to reach the shops. This has prompted several big retailers with bar facilities to construct their own building after purchasing land and shifting their business. Shops have come up in places in Mannadipet Commune like Thirukanur, Koonichampet adjoining areas in Villupuram district and in villages areas in Bahour Commune, on the fringes of the Thenpenniyar river, adjoining Cuddalore District. The liquor shops with bars are also attracting customers by giving offers with discounts on certain purchases. Many people can be seen from places like Villupuram and Vikravandi in these IMFL shops in Thirukanur area, says A V Veeraghavan, a resident of the area. This includes habitual drinkers as well as youngsters, he said.
Consumers prefer Puducherry liquor because of its quality, availability and price, said the liquor merchant. The consistency in supply of the brands preferred and its availability has also contributed to attraction for Puducherry’s liquor. Those in the business are keeping their margins low and raking in the moolah through volume of sales, the liquor merchant added.
The spurt in liquor shops have also enhanced business for cinema theatres in the areas.
The Puducherry government is also supporting the shifting as the increase in business would bring in more excise revenue to the Union Territory.