Retail shops also provide a means of employment to a considerable number of people. The 1961 Census enumerated 22,695 persons to be engaged in retail trade and wholesale transactions.

The description of important categories of retail shops based or; the information collected in the sample survey conducted in 1969 is given below. [The sample survey was conducted at Sholapur, Barshi, Mohol, Pandharpur, Akkalkot, Karnala, Kurduwadi, Akluj and Sangola.]

Grocery shops: Grocery shops account for the largest number of retail shops. There is a large number of grocers in every town or village. They sell cereals, pulses, gur, sugar, oil, ghee, tea, coffee, ground-nut oil, coconut oil, hydrogenated oils, soaps, toilet articles, pencils, tobacco, confectionary and other grocery articles. The grocers from towns such as Akkalkot, Mangalwedha, Pandharpur, Karmala, Madha, Malshiras and Barshi buy grocery articles from Sholapur and Barshi, and some articles from other wholesale trade centres, while a few shop-keepers have direct connections with outside merchants. The value of stock-in-trade of individual shops varies from Rs. 1,000 to even over a lakh of rupees depending upon the size of the shop. Many of the grocery shops at Sholapur and Barshi have a stock-in-trade worth over lakhs of rupees.

Cloth, readymade clothes and hosiery: Shops dealing in this category of goods are mainly concentrated in towns and big villages. Their number is larger in Sholapur, Barshi, Pandharpur, Karmala, Mangalwedha, Akluj and Kurduwadi. Shops at these places deal in all kinds of cotton, woollen, silk and nylon textiles such as shirtings, suitings, saris, dhotis, chuddars and shawls. Fashions in apparel have undergone remarkable changes with the result that readymade garments are highly in demand. The old types of garments such as banarasi shaloos and paithanis are declining in demand. Their place is being taken by Bangalore silk, Kanjivaram silk and other such costly fabrics.

Much of the cloth is imported by dealers directly from Bombay, Madras, Bangalore, Malegaon, Ahmadabad and Hyderabad. Ready-made clothes are brought from Bombay, Pune and Bangalore whereas hosiery goods are brought from Ludhiana, Dhariwal, Delhi, Jullunder and Kanpur.

Sholapur, Barshi, Akluj and Pandharpur are the most important centres of retail trade in cloth. The transport of cloth is done mainly by motor trucks and that from longer distance by railway. The capital investment in this business varies between Rs. 5 lakhs and Rs. 15 lakhs for bigger shops, whereas the same varies between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 2 lakhs in case of medium shops. The percentage of profit margin in this business varies between 6 and 12 per cent on an average. The business is brisk during the marriage season and festivals, and is slack in the rainy season. The transactions are generally on cash basis. In many cloth shops paid employees are engaged to perform sale and account work and their number varies between two and six on an average per shop. The salary given to these employees ranges between Rs. 90 and Rs. 250 per month.

Medicines and drugs: The number of shops of this category has gone up with the growing health consciousness among the people and the availability of medical facilities in recent times. Almost every town and big village has a few medical stores. The opening of primary health centres of the Zilla Parishad in various blocks has given rise to shops of this category. These shops deal in a variety of medicines and drugs, both allopathic and ayurvedic.

The bulk of the medicines are brought from Bombay, Baroda, Ahmadnagar and Calcutta. Many times the goods are supplied to the shop-keepers by the representatives of the manufacturing companies. The capital investment in these shops varies between Rs. 1,50,000 and Rs. 5 lakhs in the case of big shops at Sholapur and Barshi, whereas the same varies between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 50,000 for small shops. In these shops on an average three to six employees are employed whose salary ranges between Rs. 140 and Rs. 200 per month.

Stationery and cutlery: There are big shops dealing in stationery and cutlery articles in Sholapur, Barshi, Akluj, Kurduwadi and Pandharpur. These shops sell toilet articles, bangles, hosiery, pencils, inks, nibs, fountain pens, cutlery and provision goods, presentation articles, etc. Stationery articles are brought from Pune, Bombay and sometimes from Ahmadabad; paper from Titaghar and cutlery and provision goods from Bombay and Pune. The small shop-keepers generally purchase the articles at Sholapur, Barshi and Pandharpur from the wholesale traders. The stock-in-trade of these shops varies from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 30,000. The margin of profit is from 8 to 12 per cent. On an average two persons are employed in a shop to assist the employer, who are paid Rs. 125 per month. The business is generally brisk at the time when the educational institutions re-open. At Pandharpur the business reaches its peak at the time of the fairs.

Fruits, vegetables and flowers: Many of these shops are small units run by a single person. The stock-in-trade of these shops consists of fruits and vegetables which are brought from the surrounding rural areas and from distant centres such as Pune, Bombay, Ratnagiri and Kolhapur. The fruits for sale are generally mangoes, grapes, papayas, oranges, sweet limes, bananas and guavas. The trade in flowers and fruits is brisk at Pandharpur due to its being a place of pilgrimage.

Hardware and building material: The increase in constructional activity during recent times has led to the establishment of a number of shops dealing in hardware and building material. These establishments are mainly found at Sholapur, Pandharpur, Barshi, Karmala, Kurduwadi, Akluj and Mangalwedha. The annual turn-over of a retail hardware shop ranges between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 50,000, while that of wholesale shop ranges between Rs. 1,70,000 and Rs. 3,50,000. The approximate capital investment in an average shop varies between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 1,00,000. The margin of profit ranges from 8 to 14 per cent. An average shop employs two workers who are paid about Rs. 110 each per month.

Leather goods and footwear: Shops dealing in leather goods are found all over the district, but are more in number in big towns. Some of them deal mainly in leather, while others in footwear and leather goods. The big shops in Sholapur, Barshi, Pandharpur, Mangalwedha and Karmala towns sell ready-made products of some famous footwear companies alongwith articles made by local artisans. The capital investment in this business ranges between Rs. 600 and Rs. 3,000. The big shops generally have stock-in-trade worth between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 6,000. Business is generally steady throughout the year but it reaches its peak after the monsoon. These shops generally employ three to six workers who are paid about Rs. 120 each per month.

Electrical goods and appliances: Trade of this category is mainly restricted to Sholapur city and other towns. The growing pace of rural electrification has led to an increase in the number of general electrical shops. These shops are sparsely located at Sholapur, Barshi, Pandharpur, Akluj, Mangalwedha and Karmala. The demand for radio sets, electric fans, electric irons, fluorescent tubes and other accessories has increased rapidly in recent times. This has a salient effect on the trade in electrical goods. From rural areas too, there is considerable demand for radio sets and electrical appliances. Most of the appliances and articles are brought from Bombay, Pune, Madras and Calcutta by railway as well as by motor trucks. The trade is brisk at the time of Diwali and during the marriage season. The capital investment in an average shop varies between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 8,000, and the margin of profit generally amounts to 10 to 12 per cent.

In most of the cases the shop is managed by the owner with the help of a couple of skilled technicians who are paid about Rs. 150 to Rs. 250 per month.