The predictions by observers and experts on the retail industry are finally coming true. The non-consequential and dormant small cities of India are rising to the call of consumerism. The journey, which began with metro cities in the country, has moved ahead and found new lands of opportunities in the non-metros. The caravan of modern retail catalysed by booming disposable incomes and ever-expanding middle-class has paved the way for stakeholders to enjoy the pie wherever and whenever the opportunity has arrived.
With same velocity the modern retail trends and their baggage have arrived in the city of Sri Ganganagar from Rajasthan. The city is the heart of the entire district, spanning over an area of ~11,000 sq.km, in terms of retail market, B2B transactions of wholesale nature and general consumption of food, fashion and lifestyle. The city being the convergent point to more than 20 lakh population of the district enjoys the additional patronage of adjoining towns like Abohar and Fazilka in Punjab. The food basket of Rajasthan, as it is called, is among the few of the green areas of the state and contributes handsomely to the economic development in the region.
The population largely consists of Punjabis with a sizeable number of Bagri people who hail from Rajasthan and Punjab. Twenty-seven per cent of its population is urbanised and the area has 3.87 lakh households with above national average household size of 5.1. The district enjoys higher literacy rate than that of Rajasthan and also possesses higher percentage of working population out of which 75 per cent are the main workers[???]. Overall, the demographics contribute 2–3 per cent of the state’s demographics.
Since it has predominantly Punjabi culture, the past experience of Punjabi markets will be an advantage for any new entrant in this region.
The city’s economy is entirely based on agriculture and entrepreneurial mindset also percolates to related businesses. People relish investing in commodity trading and real estate. In addition, it has an industrial outlook with sugar mill, cotton ginning and pressing factories, mustard oil mill and flour mill being fully operational. According to a study by JORSS, the city enjoys healthy per capita annual income of Rs. 85,403, which is higher than the national figure of Rs. 74,920. It was learnt during the study that one of the traders in the city has donated around Rs. 400 crore for philanthropy work.
An engaging city spread on an area of 22 sq.km has local population of around 4.09 lakh representing over 80,000 families. This population is inclusive of 25 per cent of SEC-AB population. The city can be broadly divided into four clusters:
Cluster I: North-western part of the city, it has the oldest residential and commercial areas. The main residential area is known by the name of Purani abadi. The commercial hub is Old Dhan Mandi, which is the hub of B2B transaction of commodities.
Cluster II: North-eastern part of the city, it is basically an industrial zone hosting the Sugar mill, merchants wholesale market and upcoming Ganganagar Bada Bazar.
Cluster III: South-western part of the city, it is primarily a residential zone but most of it is upcoming township in the outskirt areas. The Ambica city project is one such residential project.
Cluster IV: South-eastern part of the city, it is located in the triangle of highways to the adjoining districts. The most famous residential area is Ridhi Sidhi township, which is divided into two phases. This particular cluster also houses all three upcoming shopping malls in the city.
As per the city’s master plan 2023, an area with dimension of 555.46 hectare has been identified for urbanisation and is currently having various schemes running at different stages of development. Over the last few years, the city has witnessed gradual population shift from old traditional residential areas to upcoming townships thanks to these developments. This has also supplied additional 6,990 and 1,329 residential and commercial plots to meet the city’s requirement.
Opportunities in the city
Emergence of townships
- Township projects on highways such as Ridhi Sidhi, Homeland City and Ambica are gearing up to provide residential spaces.
- These projects have invited substantial investments in real estate signifying the spending power of the people in the city.
Rise of mall culture
- The city is imbibing mall culture, which has resulted in the upcoming CGR Mall, City Mall and Ridhi Sidhi Mall.
- These three projects will provide combined retail space of around 1.37 lakh sq.ft.
Presence of key retail brands
- National apparel brands such as Arrow, Wrangler, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Octave, Peter England, Mufti, Indigo Nation, Gini & Jony…
- National footwear brands like Liberty, Woodland, Relaxo.
- Sports brands like Reebok, adidas, PUMA, and Lotto.
- Key retailers such as Easyday, Vishal Mega Mart, Mochi, Reliance Footprints, and Tanishq.
Opportunities to be exploited
- The city is yet to get fast food brands like McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Café Coffee Day, Dominos, etc.
- There is a gap in terms of availability of a good multiplex.
- JORSS study also revealed the acute demand for quality space for kids or gaming.
The shop prices across the city range from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 50,000 per sq.ft., while rentals are in the range of Rs. 55 to Rs. 65 per sq.ft. The property market in commercial areas, though on a little higher side going by the size of the city, has always been buoyant.
The city has three key retail market areas such as Gole Bazar, Ravinder Path and Gaushala Road. These three markets combined register an estimated annual business of Rs. 2,200 crore. Adding up small businesses done by other shops and retailers in other areas, the amount will touch the figure of Rs. 3,000 crore.
Gole Bazar: It is the traditional market where consumers can get all things of necessity. Spread on an area of half a square kilometer, the market has 300+ shops to buy merchandise from. Key retailers in the market include Chhabra 555, Allen Solly, JMD Garments, Liberty, Fashion Center and famous F&B joints.
Ravinder Path: Lying adjacent to Gole Bazar, Ravinder Path is primarily a branded market where one can shop for multi-products, toys, gifts, F&G and fashion merchandise. The key brands available in the market are Van Heusen, Octave, Gini & Jony, Reliance Footprints, Easyday, etc. to a name a few.
Gaushala Road: This market hosts up-market national brands like Louis Philippe, PUMA, Clarks, Reebok, and Benetton along with local MBOs like Right Choice and Iconic. The market is known as the fashion street in the city.
Key shopping malls
Though the city is yet to see an operational shopping mall, it is expected to have three malls operational by next year. JORSS research study estimates the city’s requirement of close to 4 lakh sq.ft. of mall retail space out of which around 2 lakh sq.ft. will be serviced by these three malls. All these malls are located in Cluster IV of the city’s division, and are being developed by local developers.
CGR Mall: It is the largest in the city with over a lakh square feet of retail area and is expected to open up soon. It has planned more than 200 shops on seven floors and has plans to operate a hotel on the top three floors. The average rental for the mall is Rs. 88 per sq.ft. plus CAM charges.
City Mall: This mall is located in the main residential area and offers 14,000 sq.ft. of retail space. With close to 100 shops in the plan, the mall should be operational in the next six months. The average rental of the mall is Rs. 77 per sq.ft. plus CAM charges.
Ridhi Sidhi Mall: This mall is known as multiplex mall among the locals. Located in the township of Ridhi Sidhi, the mall is under construction and would be the last one to join the other operational malls. The mall has a plan to house more than 100 shops on five floors.
Ganganagar Bada Bazar (GBB): It is the most intriguing project of the city on a site of 5.40 lakh sq.ft. Initially planned for developing the horizontal layout of shops, it is sensed that there is a separate area marked for some unique retail concept to fill in the gap of the city. The area identified is close to 1 lakh sq.ft. The USP of the site as per JORSS assessment is the location and ample space for parking. Though there is no clarity on rental or capital valuation as of now but the potential of the site is the talk of the town.
JORSS conducted 300 SEC-AB household interviews to study consumer behaviour among the families in four residential areas. The following are the key findings:
- 68 per cent of Chief Wage Earners (CWE) are either engaged in businesses or self-employed and the rest are employed with offices
- Average monthly household income is Rs. 41,720
- An astonishing 97 per cent of households have no financial obligations, such as re-paying of loans, etc.
- More than 60 per cent of respondents have been living in the city since the past 20 years or more.
- High per capita income, ownership of lifestyle products and indulgence in related activities backed by stay in bigger flats and houses represent a rich lifestyle.
- Most of the population is economy and status driven.
- There is a strong desire to have brands like Dominos, KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s in the same order of preference among the households.
- There is an acute demand for good multiplex and gaming zone among the residents.
- Consumers want dine-in restaurants serving either North Indian or South Indian or Mughlai cuisine.
Shopper profile & shopping behaviour
In order to understand shopping behavior, JORSS also conducted 150 exit interviews of the shoppers in three key market areas and has the following findings to share:
- The city has young shoppers in the age group of 18–30 years mostly belonging to SEC-AB.
- The city has mostly businessmen or industrialists or self-employed professionals, who form the major part of the earning population.
- Shoppers spend at an average 60–75 minutes per visit to the market and 7 such visits are made to their favourite market in a month.
- Shoppers appreciate branded products and services but are currently dissatisfied with the city’s parking situation.
- Shoppers desire to have the following in a mall:
- Kids playing area
- Food and beverages
- Good grocery store
The author can be contacted for any further query on the study or city information.
Sanjay Bakshi is the Head of JORSS – a firm providing market research, data analytics and retail advisory services