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Retail Employees Day 2020: Celebrating frontline retail warriors in COVID times

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Come December 12 and the Retail Industry across the globe  trains the spotlight on retail associates and celebrates them on the occasion of Retail Employees Day (RED). December 12 is the day to acknowledge retail associates who work with heart. It is a day to give something back to them – a smile, a simple thank you. On this day, employers celebrate the sacrifices, and the untiring efforts of their employees.
Initiated by BS Nagesh, Founder- TRRAIN, RED has grown well beyond an occasion to a fully fledged movement for the industry.
Coronavirus & The Importance of RED
The year 2020 has been very tough for the retail industry. The Novel Coronavirus outbreak has hastened the transformation of the global retail industry like never before. COVID-19 has led to a shutdown of retail worldwide, proving to be one of the biggest disruptors the industry has ever seen, catapulting the sector into adopting new technologies. As a result, a large number of retail employees lost their job, were furloughed or asked to work on reduced salaries for a period of many months.
Despite this, work continued undeterred. Employees worked to ensure consumers received everything they needed – this time ensuring things were delivered to the comfort of peoples’ homes.
Understanding how retail associates continued to work in a global crisis is a motivating and interesting chapter in the history of the retail industry, which has undergone one of its toughest periods till date. Over the last six months, in a disease-ridden world, there are many examples of courage and a will to help consumers get access to basics in order to survive by retail employees.
On a happier note, the economy is opening, and the industry is limping back to normalcy and so there are many reasons to celebrate RED 2020 and to dedicate December 12 day to the frontline warriors of retail.
Even without COVID, the retail industry is a tough battleground, where only people with experience and innovative ideas survive. In order to hit accelerated growth and reach a status, at the right time and with the perfect impact, effective engagement of retail employees is a significant requirement for any company. As the industry evolves, employee engagement, talent management, and training are key challenges that need to be taken care of.
It’s a known truth that happier employees create a better store ambiance, which would indeed result in generating a far more effective customer interaction and sales. Making employees feel valued and motivated to build genuine relationships with them can help create loyalty, boost performance and nurture positive attitude as well. RED can be considered as a nascent step in strengthening this relationship.
Since its inception in 2011, the Retail Employees’ Day has garnered tremendous support from 1000+ brands in India including Shopper’s Stop, Reliance Trends, Future Group, Arvind Fashion along with 100+ malls and 8.5 lakh SMEs.
Speaking about what makes this year’s Retail Employees’ Day special, BS Nagesh, Founder -TRRAIN said, “If the year 2020 has taught us one thing, it is gratitude, especially towards frontline retail employees and retailers who provided us essentials in a time of need, all while risking their own health! This, 12th December, Retail Employees’ Day, with the #KhulKeBoloThankYou campaign we’re trying to create the world’s largest thank you movement to salute these frontline heroes. We as customers play an integral role to make this movement a huge success, and make an impact in the life of a retail associate with just two words – Thank You.”
Speaking about the ‘Retail Employees Day 2020’, Bijou Kurien, Chairman, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “When the whole of India was locked down, our Retail employees braved transport, health and family pressures to ensure that Stores were kept open. And consumers got a chance to stock up their pantries and keep their kitchens running. As we celebrate Retail Employees’ Day, we have a chance to thank our frontline retail employees, for the difference they made to us, during Covid lockdown and beyond. Thank you Retail Employee, for what you do for us on a daily basis.”
Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), further added, “The pandemic has really brought forth the capability of retailers and retail employees to selflessly serve consumers. During the lockdown, retailers overcame many challenges with persistent efforts of their employees to ensure supply, storage, retail and delivery of essential products while risking their lives to ensure consumer needs for food and essentials are met. We do believe that it’s the right time for the consumers to go to their nearest retailer and express their gratitude with a simple ‘Thank You’ on this day.”
Sharing his thoughts, Lalit Agarwal, Chairman, and Managing Director, V-Mart Retail said, “On this 10th anniversary of Retail Employees Day, I extend my warmest wishes and gratitude to millions of our associates in the retail industry, who toil day and night to serve the customer and create customer delight. This day is even more special this year, given the threat of Covid-19 pandemic and many setbacks we have faced, despite which our retail sector comrades have stood on duty day after day with a smile on their face. I salute their dedication, courage, and hard work, which is an inspiration for all of us.”
Expressing his views, Damodar Mall, CEO, Grocery Retail, Reliance Retail, said, “The world of retail, indeed the world of everything changed in this year. RED 2020 is special to me because every Retailer, Retail Associate, and Delivery partner stepped up beyond the regular call of duty to support the citizen families right through the crisis of pandemic. I learned my lessons of customer centricity and a sense of societal duty from all people who put customer families ahead of their own.  My heart swells with pride that I am part of these champion retail teams. With extra zest in my voice, I say #KhulkeBoloThankYou. Join me in saluting everyone associated with the retail profession today.”
Venu Nair, MD & CEO, Shoppers Stop Limited, said “As we gear up to celebrate the Retail Employees’ Day on 12th December, I wanted to thank all the employees for being a part of the Retail family. This has been a challenging year on many fronts. With pandemic hitting the revenues of the industry and stores closing across the country, for a substantial period of time, we have faced many a hardship. Notwithstanding, some have taken the risk of working even during the peak pandemic only to ensure that essential needs of customers were met. I want to congratulate all of them for keeping customer centricity at core while representing the industry, brands, and engaging in conversations that help in a higher conversion to sales. I thank them for that and more.
India’s Expanding Retail Sector
Till last year, before COVID-19 hit, the Indian Retail Industry was growing at a phenomenal pace, surpassing China to become the numero uno market for retail expansion. The industry employs over 50 million people, making it the second largest employment sector in the country.
One day to celebrate these 50 million people is a simple, yet powerful, attempt to encourage employers as well as customers to recognize the efforts of retail associates across the country. RED aims at creating awareness and empathy for the jobs of retail associates and the significant role they play in the lives of the customer.
The RED Impact
All stakeholders in TRRAIN overwhelmingly acknowledge that RED plays a major impact on the employee engagement and employee morale. Employees feel recognized and valued for their efforts through the public appreciation and received from within and the organization.
Employees value the opportunities provided by RED as a chance to interact with their team, store managers, executives, top management of the company and sometimes even with the CEOs, Co- Founders and the owners of the company, along with the other retail brand employees in the surrounding. This helps in increasing the bonding and camaraderie within the in-house employees.
Impact on the Retail Industry: RED is unique in the fact that it has provided an avenue for interactions between the retailers and their supplier product companies and between people working for different brands. As the entire industry has come together to celebrate RED since 2013, it also brings a sense of pride and belonging among themselves.
Impact on Business: It is said that ‘Unity is strength, and when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved’. RED has helped enhance employee ability and motivation to contribute to the business outcomes and productivity. One can see a definite increase in company productivity when employees feel valued. This also helps in generating improved teamwork and relationship building among the store employees and with their executives leading to a better working environment at the store.
At a larger level, RED has become an opportunity to bring together key stakeholders of the retail industry at a common platform which is a great achievement on its own.
Government Recognition
The buzz around Retail Employees’ Day reached new and improved heights in 2015 when the initiative got recognition received from Narendra Modi, the Honorable Prime Minister of India along with the ministries of central and state governments throughout the country.
A letter from the Prime Minister’s Office congratulating TRRAIN on this joyous occasion was a proud moment. The event also received support from the brand ambassadors across multiple brands.
Top celebrities from Bollywood, South Indian film Industry & the Indian cricket team took to social media to thank all the retail associates on this auspicious day.
A single day can truly have a lingering positive impact and be instrumental in instilling long lasting pride and joy in the retail sector. It brings the employees, executives, business owners and mall owners together to engage with each other, as one retail fraternity.

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