Retailers Association of India (RAI) released their latest Retail Business Survey which indicated a steady month-on-month recovery for retail businesses across India, with sales in November 2020 being 13 per cent short of the sales during the corresponding period last year.
Retailers across sectors are hopeful of achieving about 85% of pre-pandemic level in business in the next six months. According to RAI, which has 15,000 retail members, retailers are registering steady month-on-month recovery driven by festive shopping with sales in November 2020 being just 13% short of last year’s sales on a year-on-year comparison.
In November 2020, consumer durables and electronics category continued to recover with sales at 12 per cent (Y-o-Y) and food and grocery category have started to indicate sales growth at 5 per cent (Y-o-Y), while the apparel and clothing segment is still reeling under pressure with nearly (-)12 per cent (Y-o-Y) behind pre-pandemic sales.
According to RAI, with local level restrictions imposed in several states in fear of a second wave of Covid-19 cases, retailers are approaching 2021 with cautious optimism.
Speaking on the current state of the retail industry, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, said, “While the festive and the muted wedding season aided some recovery for certain segments, the lack of inbound travel of non-resident Indians (NRIs) during the winter has had a negative impact on sales.”
He was of the view that retail businesses may get further impacted by international travel restrictions being imposed due to the new strain of the virus.
“Furthermore, with local level restrictions coming back into play, retailers are moving towards 2021 with cautious optimism. However, the industry is hopeful of achieving nearly 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels of business in the next six months,” Rajagopalan said.
While western and eastern regions of the country are indicating a slower recovery with sales at -18% and -17% respectively, northern and southern regions are progressing at -9%, on a year-on-year comparison.
RAI has urged the government to extend support to help revive retail and save jobs. According to the apex body, retail in India – sized around USD 854 billion – is one of the country’s largest industries that makes up for over 10% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Retail industry employs 46 million people, out of which 90% are in blue collar segment. Fashion and electronics contribute 50% to the total retail while food and other essentials account for the rest.
Recovery would need unconventional solutions and government support. At this juncture, all efforts are required to boost the local economy and help revive the retail sector, saving millions of jobs, said the RAI statement.