The quantum of de-growth in Retail sales has reduced as most segments in retail have started to show significant improvement. The 13th edition of the Retail Business Survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI) indicates sales in February 2021 were at -7% of last year’s sales on a Y-o-Y comparison and at -18% in Q3FY21 on a Y-o-Y comparison.
Consumer Durables & Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) categories have shown positive growth of 15% and 18% (Y-o-Y) respectively in the month of February 2021. Categories like Footwear, Beauty, Wellness & Personal Care, Sports Goods and Food & Grocery are showing steady month-on-month recovery on a Y-o-Y comparison, signalling growth from the month of March 2021.
Speaking on the current state of the retail industry, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “It is heartening to see recovery across categories. We hope that the uncertainty regarding the rising cases of COVID-19 in a few states will not cast its shadow on the growth momentum with the rollout of the vaccine. Restrictions or not, it has now become imperative for every retailer to adopt phygital in various ways—be it social media, messaging platforms, or digital shopping in addition to their normal channels to align themselves with the changing consumer mindsets of the Next Normal.”
Recovery across regions is showing steady improvement with Eastern India indicating positive growth of 2% in the month of February. Southern & Northern India have recovered better with sales nearing pre-COVID-19 levels at -6% and -9% respectively (Y-o-Y), while Western India has progressed slower at -16% on a Y-o-Y comparison in the month of February 2021.
Retailers are hopeful of achieving pre-pandemic levels of business in the first six months of the year 2021. Although COVID-19 vaccinations have started, the pandemic situation may take some more time to completely settle. RAI believes that recovery will need unconventional solutions and government support. At this juncture, all efforts are required to boost the local economy and help revive retail, saving millions of jobs. Retailers Association of India (RAI) has appealed to the Ministry of Health & Welfare to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination for frontline retail workers.