Why Small Mom and Pop Grocery Stores Dominate the Indian Market

Planning your first trip to India can be overwhelming, but the best advice is to embrace the unexpected. If you’re a food lover, you’ll definitely benefit from exploring one of the country’s small grocery stores, called kiranas. These shops offer diverse and carefully chosen food products tailored to the needs of their local communities. Unlike in the U.S., these stores aren’t dominated by big-name brands, and the owners prioritize building personal connections with their customers in order to better understand their preferences.

According to Statista, over 95% of India’s food and grocery market is made up of these small, locally run shops. They have a long history, evolving from India’s traditional open-air markets called haat bazaars, where vendors would trade goods with the local community. Families then began to open small stores known as kiranas within their own neighborhoods, providing even greater convenience and further strengthening individual relationships.

With the rising popularity of grocery delivery apps like Instacart, GrubHub, and DoorDash, you might think that these small stores would be struggling. However, kiranas continue to thrive due to their focus on personal service, something that many modern apps still lack. While some kiranas have started taking orders via WhatsApp and accepting online payments, integrating fully into the e-commerce market would require significant operational changes.

Nonetheless, the future looks bright for kiranas, as they continue to hold a majority share of India’s $810 billion grocery market. As Indian Retailer reports, there’s sure to be integration between the traditional small stores and modern delivery services sometime soon. So, when on your culinary adventure in India, don’t forget to step into one of these fascinating kiranas and experience a taste of India’s rich food culture.


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