Are we saying goodbye to our local grocery stores?
We don’t know yet; neither do many of the grocery store owners in our neighbourhood.
The Ministry of Business and Trade will no longer renew the licenses of commercial establishments located in residential areas from September 15 to ease the traffic around these areas, as per local news reports. The businesses most likely to suffer are grocery stores, barber shops, bakeries and laundries.
However when JustHere contacted a few grocery stores in Muntazah and Al Wakrah, many of them were unaware of this decision from the ministry. A store owner of Muzzamil Grocery store in Al Wakrah said, “We received a similar notice four months ago about the municipality demolishing the line of shops. But we haven’t been informed about this recent decision. Our license expires in August, and only then we will know if the Ministry will renew it or not.”
A regular customer to such small stores, John Rey Dichoso who lives in an apartment in Muntazah, says. “It’s easier to make a phone call and have your goods delivered than going to an Al Meera or any of the bigger markets that are not near my place. If they shut down the smaller stores then I would have to make regular trips to large supermarkets,” he complains.
Meanwhile Hilton Mashonga who stays with his family in the West Bay says they usually go to Carrefour or Lulu for their weekly household purchases as you can find everything under one roof. “Moreover it’s a little expensive to buy certain products, for instance washing powder from the local stores. But if you need something urgently within the week, convenience stores come in handy.”
Al Meera benefits?
Last year Al Meera was on a major expansion plan that saw over 60,000 sq. mt. of development. These malls are expected to open in the next three years.
This expansion includes convenience stores and malls. Al Meera’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mohammed Al Qahtani had said in the past that “The neighbourhood model is a convenience store catering to the immediate vicinity with groceries and basic services, such as dry cleaners and pharmacies. Using this model, 2013 will see more Al Meera outlets opening throughout the country.”
Basically what the Al Meera convenience store will do is perform the role of existing privately-owned grocery stores that are facing threat of closure.
Al-Meera is a share holding company, and is 26% owned by the Qatari government, and 74% owned by shareholders.
Do you support this decision by the Ministry? Do you find these stores a convenience or a nuisance? Share your thoughts.