The retail boom is particularly evident in Nagaland, where 2023 alone witnessed the inauguration of several stores including Super 99, Save Store, Forever 21, CityLife, and Tanishq. The latest addition to this flourishing retail landscape is CaratLane, which opened its doors in Dimapur on 25 February 2024 signaling a growing confidence in the state’s economic potential.

Not only Nagaland but Northeast India in general has witnessed a retail revolution in recent years. According to IndiaRetailing Insights, more than 120 stores, including prominent brands like V-Mart, Vishal Megamart, and City Kart, have been inaugurated in the region over the past four years.

A decade ago, Northeast India grappled with insurgency and related violence, impeding economic progress. However, as highlighted in a report by Shiv Joshi for India Retailing, improved stability and infrastructure development have acted as catalysts for the region’s retail growth.

Shreyans Surana, founder and managing director of Baazar Style Retail Ltd., emphasized the historic challenges faced by the region, citing supply chain disruptions due to inadequate infrastructure.

“The demand was always there but there was a huge lack of good roads and other infrastructure which led to supply chain disruptions,” Surana tells India Retailing.

The rugged terrain, prone to landslides and earthquakes, compounded these challenges, perpetuating the region’s commercial and cultural isolation from the rest of India for several decades.

According to Vikram Bothra, Managing Director of Chandan Retail, a notable shift began around 2000 – 2005 where stability started coming in and people started to venture and a lot of infrastructure development came in. This, he said, gained momentum post-2014. “That was when the complete business environment, new retail brands, and new retail services started coming into the Northeast,” he was quoted by India retailing.

The retailers attributed this change to the efforts of the local and central government which have been instrumental in driving this transformation. Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh statement in July 2023 was also attributed where he said, between 2014 and 2022 projects valued at Rs 15,867 crore were sanctioned under MDONER and NEC schemes in the North-Eastern States.

Singh also highlighted substantial infrastructure growth, with the total length of National Highways increasing from 8,480 km in 2013-2014 to 15,735 km in 2022-23, representing an 85.55% growth.

Additionally, Rs 19,855 crore has been invested since 2014-15 to develop new railway tracks and double existing lines in the region. The number of airports and waterways also saw significant increases, rising from 9 in 2014 to 17 and 18 respectively.

And, therefore, with railways extending directly to Itanagar and improved connectivity via rail, air, and road networks in states like Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, the retail sector bloomed.

Despite these advancements, supply chain challenges persist due to the region’s rugged terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. Amarnath Banik, an Amazon Trucking partner for Northeast India, highlighted the obstacles posed by landslides and intense monsoon rains, emphasizing the need for robust transportation networks.

According to India Retailing, improvements in internet connectivity have also facilitated business operations, with major telecom players investing in infrastructure upgrades. This has enabled better logistics services, with companies like DHL, Blue Dart, and Delhivery expanding their operations in the region.

Amazon, according to Banik, has been successfully addressing hurdles in the region by developing robust transportation networks, establishing alternative routes, and prioritizing local connections.

“Our reliance on strong local ties, skilled drivers, and a well-structured contingency plan has proven effective in navigating the demanding landscapes of the Northeast and ensuring timely deliveries,” Banik told India retailing.

Mokokchung Times

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