After braving a rough year, Indian retail sector has managed to post sales at 93 per cent of pre-COVID levels, an industry survey indicated. With different segments of the retail industry maintaining a steady pace of recovery, there is improvement across various regions of the country too.
Encouraged by the improving trend, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said in the 13th edition of its Retail Business Survey that the sector is hopeful of achieving a full recovery within the first six months of 2021.
The study ascertained that sales in February 2021 were at 7 per cent lower than last year's sale and 18 per cent lower in Q3 FY21 as compared to the year-ago period.
Consumer durables and quick service restaurants (QSR) segments have shown showed 15 per cent and 18 per cent growth, respectively, in February 2021, the survey added. "Categories like footwear, beauty, wellness and personal care, sports goods and food and grocery have also showed steady month-on-month recovery on a Y-o-Y comparison, signalling growth from the month of March 2021."
Meanwhile, recovery across regions has also shown steady improvement. Eastern India saw 2 per cent Y-o-Y growth in February, whereas Southern and Northern India saw (-)6 per cent and (-)9 per cent growth, respectively, as against year-ago period. Western India has progressed slower at (-)16 per cent, the survey noted.
"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," the report said.
"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," said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.