Hardware shops see a surge in demand, run out of goods

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

With the border gate closed and Jaigaon under lockdown, hardware shops in Phuentsholing have for the first time garnered 100 percent grip of the market.

Demand for construction materials have increased manifold and sales are at all-time high.

However, that will not be the case for long as the stocks are getting exhausted fast and imports, other than the essential commodities are not allowed.

Supplies of CGI sheets, fans, plywood and many other electrical fittings are already exhausting, hardware owners said.

The proprietor of Agarwal Trading, a CGI supplier in the town, Manish, said while the demand is rising, his shop is running out of stock. “Customers are coming,” he said, adding most customers enquiring about hardware materials were contractors.

Those in the business are waiting for government directives or any sign in relaxing the import of construction materials.

Legphel Enterprise’s owner, Arun, said they have not been able to import materials even for once after the government order to stop the import in the wake of the coronavirus and its prevention measures last month.

“If import is allowed, we will be able to import,” he said.

Arun said the key construction items that are more in demand are CGI sheets, plywood, and bathroom and toilet fittings.

Legphel Enterprise has stopped selling in bulk to ensure the limited stock benefit more people.

Traders in the town said that more than 70 percent of the Bhutanese construction firms and retailers relied on Jaigaon traders, prior to Covid-19 impact. Despite the construction sector being hit, most clients operating today are dependent on the hardware shops in Phuentsholing.

A contractor, Bimal Kumar Ghalley had listed about 13 different construction materials, when he came to the town from Pasakha, yesterday.

“I couldn’t buy more than 90 percent of the materials,” he said, adding that he was hopping from one shop to another.

There are not enough plumbing and electrical materials in all the shops, Bimal Kumar Ghalley said, adding that the prices would shoot up soon if the situation continues.

A hardware retailer from Trongsa, Megraj Ghalley said there is increased demand for construction materials from government offices, contractors and villagers in Trongsa.

“But there are no materials here. I will return with whatever I can buy,” he said.

Thimphu

Traders in the capital city that was experiencing a construction boom, especially hotels, are also seeing demand rise. They could sell most of their goods with the lockdown hampering import.

A trader on the expressway said there is a temporary rush for materials.

“One didn’t even spare my sample lightings,” he said.

Hoteliers import most of the materials, especially furnishings and furniture from as far as Thailand and China.

With some buildings nearing completion, building owners are dependent on what local traders have in stock. Unfortunately, many are running out of stock with the lockdown.

“Even as the sale was increasing, we ran out of stock,” said a hardware owner in Changzamtog. “We do not stock much and what we have is old.”

Those building houses are worried, as delay in completing would mean extra cost. “The loan interest waiver and deferment of payment for three months has come as a cushion,” said a building owner. “The problem is after June.”

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