Indian retailers across electronics, fashion, and grocery sectors are optimistic about realising around 85 per cent of pre-pandemic level in terms of business over the course of the next six months, and are looking at the upcoming year (2021) with cautious optimism, according to the Retailers Association of India's (RAI) latest survey.
The 10th edition of the Retail Business Survey indicated a steady month-on-month recovery in retail businesses across India led by festive shopping, with November 2020 sales being just 13 per cent short of the sales during the corresponding period last year.
In November 2020, the consumer durables and electronics category continued to recover, logging sales at 12 per cent year-on-year, the apex body's survey added. Meanwhile, the food and grocery segment has started to demonstrate sales growth at 5 per cent year-on-year, while apparel and clothing category is still reeling under pressure with around minus (-) 12 per cent year-on-year behind pre-pandemic sales.
The month of November was marked by Diwali festivities and also aligned with the wedding season.
"While the festive and the muted wedding season aided some recovery for certain segments, the lack of inbound travel of non-resident Indians during the winter has had a negative impact on sales. Retail businesses may get further impacted by international travel restrictions being imposed due to new strain of the virus " Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, said, the IANS reported.
Rajagopalan believed the retail businesses might be further affected by international level curbs being imposed in the wake of 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 about 85% of pre-pandemic levels of business in the next six months," he added.
Although eastern and western regions of India are suggesting a slower recovery with sales at minus (-) 18 per cent and minus (-) 17 per cent respectively, northern and southern zones are advancing at minus (-) 9 per cent, on a year-on-year comparison.
Urging the Centre to widen support to help revive retail and save jobs, RAI said the recovery would need unusual solutions and government backing.
Retail in India, estimated to be around $854 billion, is one of the country's largest industries making up for more than 10 per cent of India's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Retail industry employs approximately 46 million people, out of which 90 per cent work in the blue-collar category. Where fashion and electronics contribute 50 per cent to the total retail, food and other essentials constitute the rest.