Itinerant traders have been an integral part of internal trade in
India. Analyse the reasons for their survival in spite of
competition from large scale retailers.
Itinerant traders are retailers who do not have a fixed place of
operation. That is, they do not have a shop from where they sell
their products. They are also known as mobile traders as they
keep moving from place to place in order to sell their products.
They are generally found on street sides, and they shift their
place of operation in search of more customers. They usually sell
low-priced and non-standard goods.
The reasons that itinerant traders survive in spite of the tough
competition from large-scale retailers can be attributed to the
(a) Low price of goods:
Itinerant traders generally deal in low-priced goods that are of
daily use to customers, such as toiletries, vegetables, fruits,
etc. These traders do not have to spend on storage and
advertising, and they keep their inventories short and limited.
Hence, the prices of their goods are lower than the prices of
goods sold by large-scale retailers.
(b) Personal attention to
customers: Itinerant traders deal directly
with consumers and are, therefore, able to give more attention to
them. As they supply goods to customers at their doorstep, they
provide greater customer-care services by eliciting proper
feedback and passing on the information to manufacturers.
(c) Easy availability at short notice:
Itinerant traders move from place to place and provide goods at
doorstep. On the other hand, large-scale retailers have shops in
central locations away from residential areas, and it is often
difficult for customers to buy goods at the time they require
them. Therefore, they depend on itinerant traders.
(d) Lower possibility of losses: Large-scale
retailing involves a higher probability of incurring losses,
because the retailers concerned deal in high-priced goods. Thus,
in case the tastes and preferences of customers change,
large-scale retailers are forced to sell the goods that have
fallen out of favour. These goods are often sold at low prices in
clearance sales, causing huge losses to the retailers. On the
other hand, as itinerant traders deal in consumer goods that are
low priced and of daily use, the probability of their incurring
losses is minimised.
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