Traders at traditional markets struggle
Tebet Dalam Market in South Jakarta looked slightly deserted Tuesday afternoon. The majority of customers beelined to the second floor where a department store is located, or to printing establishments on theground floor that were abuzz with printers working overtime to meet customers’ deadlines.
The first floor, which hosts mostly grocery stores and wet markets, looked idle. Shops attendants were seen munching on their snacks while trading jokes with their peers. Business owner Riza, who runs a cosmetics shop on the first floor, said that she had seen a declining number of customers to her store in the past three years, which affected her turnover.
She blamed it on the ubiquitous minimarkets and other types of modern markets.
“Less and less people come to the traditional market because they prefer to buy things at the supermarket and hypermarkets. Now we have to face new competition in the form of minimarkets and convenience stores,” she told The Jakarta Post.
Riza said that two minimarkets, which could be found less than 100 meters away from her shop, were responsible for more than a 30 percent decline in his turnover.
Tebet market appears clean, orderly and well-maintained enough with spaces partitioned according to goods types, but that was not enough to attract buyers who are used to shopping in the air-conditioned rooms of minimarkets and supermarkets.
“What can I say? Customers can find almost everything they need in those hypermarkets. In minimarkets, buyers can find almost everything that a traditional market has,” said Riza.
Another thing that makes it hard for traders of wet markets: The cheap prices offered by minimarkets. “They could bypass the distribution chain by getting their merchandise in large quantities directly from factories,” she said.
Fellow trader Hermanus Usman from the Bendungan Hilir shared Riza’s concern and blamed the slump in his business on unfair practices committed by owners of minimarkets and convenience stores.
Hermanus put the blame on the tendency among owners of minimarkets to break the rule.
“Minimarket owners only do business like the rest of us, the problem is whether they conduct their business fair and square,” he said.
Hermanus said that there were in fact regulations that protected the rights of small business owners but were apparently breached by both government officials and owners of minimarkets.
A 2002 bylaw on markets stipulates that minimarket owners must secure a recommendation from local neighborhood leaders, and permits from the Public Order Agency, the Jakarta Trade Agency and the Jakarta Building Supervision Agency to operate their stores.
The bylaw also stipulates that privately owned stores with a store area of less than 200 square meters must be located at least 500 meters from the nearest traditional market, and larger stores should be located at least 1 kilometer away.
In the vicinity of the Bendungan Hilir Market there are at least five minimarkets located within a radius of 1 kilometer from the traditional market.
In 2006, the city administration put in place a moratorium on new minimarkets following a boom in the minimarket business.
However, the number of minimarkets continues to increase after 2006. A recent survey conducted by the city administration found that as of February 2011 there were 2,162 minimarkets operating in the city. Of that number only 67 have complete licenses to operate. The remaining 2,095 remain open even without all the required documents.
Hermanus expected the city administration to swiftly crack down on these unlicensed minimarkets.
“We do not want to hear the government say the word ‘we will’ again. We need concrete action,”