Under a nationwide scheme launched in 1979 for the distribution of essential commodities, goods are procured by the central government and then supplied to citizens. Each state has its own consumer cooperative federation; all of these groups are under the aegis of the National Cooperative Consumers Federation with the Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. By 2000, more than 26,000 cooperatives and 681 wholesale stores shared in the distribution of sugar, edible oils, and grains in rural areas.
With the government's new emphasis on growth in private enterprise since the late 1980s, the expansion of privately-owned retail outlets have competed with the cooperative sector. Most private commercial enterprises are small establishments owned and operated by a single person or a single family; retail outlets are often highly specialized in product and usually very small in quarters and total stock. Often the Indian retail shop is large enough to hold only the proprietor and a small selection of stock; shutters fronting the store are opened to allow customers to negotiate from the street or sidewalk. There are no major national chains but foreign franchises do exist. In most retail shops, fixed prices are rare and bargaining is the accepted means of purchase. Some department stores and supermarkets have begun to appear in shopping centers in major cities. These shopping centers usually offer entertainment and leisure activities as well.
India's domestic trade is widely influenced by informal and unreported commerce and income, known as "black money."
Government and business hours are generally from 10 AM to 5 PM , Monday through Friday, with a lunch break from 1 to 2 PM . Larger shops in Delhi are open from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM and from 3:30 to 7:30 PM . Normal banking hours are from 10 AM to 4 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM to 12 noon on Saturdays.