Southern India, dubbed the source of Organised Retail in India since the 90s has witnessed the fastest comeback after the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that stuck like a sudden lightning in March this year. According to a recent survey, retailers were quoted saying they have reached 82% of retail sales that occurred 24 months ago, in July ‘19. Western India saw the lowest achievement of just 57% when compared with the same period. This is mainly because of prolonged curbs in Maharashtra that disrupted the smooth functioning of modern retail in the State. Sales in North India have touched 78% while that in East India has reached only 69% of the pre-pandemic levels according to a recent report. Thousands of store locations across India have been shut permanently by retail tenants across segments such as apparel, fashion, footwear, electronics, etc. due to low demand in the offline retail space and a weak forecast for the next 18-24 months.
The 18th edition of the Retail Business Survey conducted by the Retailers Association of India (RAI) indicates that retail sales pan-India in July 2021 were at 72% of the pre-pandemic levels (July 2019), as against 50% in June 2021. Speaking about the outlook of the Retail industry in India, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “There is a possibility of significant sales recovery for retail businesses as the festive season approaches, provided restrictions on modern retail are relaxed across the country allowing smooth operations and return to normalcy.”
In categories, Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) recovered the best in July 2021 with sales at 97% of the pre-pandemic levels (July 2019). However, Beauty & Wellness, which includes Salons, is still at 50% of pre-pandemic sales, while Apparel is at 63% sales of the pre-pandemic levels in July 2021, according to the survey results. Food & Grocery Retail, the largest pie of the USD 850 Bn Organised Retail Industry, touched 88% in July ‘21 of the retail sales during July 2019 while Consumer Durables, Electronics and Footwear could manage only 72% of their past. This could also be due to the preference of e-commerce over physical shopping, especially in the CDIT segment. Sportswear, Athleisure and casual wear retailers reported achieving only 39% levels of July 2019, in what is expected to be a revival with a distant future. Global sportswear brand Reebok was sold off by the Adidas Group earlier this month, due to a weak demand for sporting goods due to the pandemic and almost nil sporting events and activities among consumers since schools, colleges and offices have been shut for over a year and most offline tournaments have been suspended.
Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers and is a strong advocate for retailing in India. It works with all levels of government and stakeholders to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail, to promote and sustain retail investments in communities from coast to coast, and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness.