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Perception of Customers

Street vendors are not usually regarded as a part of the urban system .Despite this we find that almost all sections of urban society, including the more affluent sections, patronize them. In Mumbai the richer sections buy fruits and vegetables from hawkers and the youth also purchase clothes from them. The garment sellers in Fashion Street and in Colaba Causeway, both in south Mumbai, Linking Road in Bandra in the western suburbs have clients from the upper classes.

The majority of the consumers are however from the middle and lower income groups. It is these people who benefit most from street vendors as they are able to get their daily necessities at cheap prices and at convenient locations. The main beneficiaries of the food hawkers in Mumbai and Calcutta are the middle and lower income office goers and low paid workers in the informal sector. It is estimated that around 30% of Mumbaiís work force has at least one meal a day from hawkers. The food they get is cheap and filling. These people would have had to spend more if they ate in
restaurants.

In order to assess the views of those who bought goods from hawkers the researchers interviewed 150 consumers in each city. Care was taken to ensure that these people were from different parts of the city. And they came from different economic groups. We divided the consumers into three income groups, namely, lower income, middle income and higher income. The lower income group comprises those whose earnings are less than Rs 5,000 a month. The middle income group is those
with earning between Rs 5,000 but less than Rs 10,000 and upper income group are those who earn more than Rs 10, 00 a month. In most of the cities 70 cases were taken from the lower income group, 50 from the middle income group and 30 from the upper income group. The findings are given below

How much do they spent?

In Mumbai the average middle income consumer spends around Rs. 1,500 a month in purchases from hawkers for household consumption. If we include items like pan and cigarettes then the expenditure goes up by Rs. 500 a month. The upper income group consumers usually buy clothes and fruits from street vendors. Their average expenditure is around Rs. 3,000 a month. Those from lower income group spent Rs.800 to Rs. 1,200 a month in the purchasing goods from hawkers which is much higher than that of the other income groups.

The survey in Calcutta shows that 82% of the consumers buy vegetables daily or more than three times a week from hawkers.Only 7 persons, all from upper income groups, stated that they did not buy vegetables from hawkers. However all sections buy items like pan and cigarettes, tea
and snacks and newspapers and periodicals while at work. It is found that at an average consumer from the middle income group spends Rs.1, 700 a month in purchases from hawkers. As in Mumbai, in this city too the poorer sections spend around Rs 800 or more on purchases from hawkers. T he upper income group consumers spend around Rs. 2,000 a month.

Consumers in Bangalore purchase mainly vegetables and fruits from hawkers. The upper income group spends between 2,500 to Rs. 3,000 a month while the lower income group spends around Rs.800 a month. Besides buying vegetables and flowers from street vendors, those from the middle income group buy other consumer durables such as clothes, slippers and house hold items as well.
In Ahmedabad consumers belonging to lower income group, purchase goods worth Rs. 550 to Rs 1,000 a month. For those belonging to the middle income group purchase around Rs 1,500 a month. The upper income group spends around Rs 2,000 a month.

In Patna, as in Bangalore, the middle income group spend more on purchases from hawkers. The upper income group spends Rs 1,500 on purchases from hawkers.These are mainly on fruits and vegetables. The middle income group spends around Rs. 3,000 while the lower income group spends less than Rs.800 a month. In Patna the average income of those in the middle income group is less than Rs.3,000. These people buy mainly vegetables from the vendors because they are cheap and fresh.The other items, in much smaller quantities, include toys and readymade garments and other non perishable items. While comparing the income of the different groups with the purchases from hawkers we find that the proportion of the income spent in making purchases from hawkers is
definitely higher as the income level decreases from the fair price(ration) shops, the poor buy all their requirements from hawkers.