Retailers surveyed by Retailers Association of India (RAI) reported a 7% increase in business in Q3 when compared to pre-pandemic year same quarter sales (in 2019) and a 26% growth compared to Q3 FY2020. However, the growth seems to be stunted due to the ongoing third wave of the covid-19 virus due to which several state Governments have imposed lockdown as well as shutting down business units. Delhi Govt. announced that all Bars & Restaurants shall stay shut wet 10 Jan. ’22 onwards. Karnataka is maintaining a weekend lockdown cum curfew on both days while Tamil Nadu has imposed a Sunday curfew. Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab are on a wait and watch mode though the numbers of affected patients are steadily raising.
Commenting on the slowing down of retail businesses, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “Retail business was on a steady growth trajectory during most of December, however, the pace of growth was seen dropping off significantly towards the last week of December due to the fresh sets of curbs imposed in most parts of the country owing to the third wave of the pandemic.”
Consumer Durables including Electronics and IT gadgets saw the highest increase asa category to 26% over the same period in 2019. This could be perhaps of the pent up demand as well as lukewarm sales all through the year. For the record, Deepavali Sales 2020 was among the worst year for appliance makers and retailers. Sports Goods and leisure wear including athletic wear saw a rise of 14% in sales, notably as more and more people across the country are taking up to health and fitness including sporting and other activities. Organised Jewellery business grew 9% according to the report, although the share of the semi- and unorganised Jewellery retail business is significantly higher. Therefore the exact growth in sales of gold at a category level could be difficult to assess. Apparel and Clothing sales flattened and reached 2019 Q3 levels, a much needed respite for fashion brands and retailers selling clothing and accessories. With offices opening up in a phased manner across the country during Q3 FY21-22, it was no surprise that sales of daily wear, work wear and part wear would increase sooner than anticipated. However, the third wave could once again prove to be a dampener unless the wave is curtailed at the soonest.
RAI has appealed to the Central Government — Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare — to instruct the State Governments to refrain from imposing restrictions based on positivity rate and consider hospitalisations as the criteria to determine the severity of restrictions instead as most of the country’s population is vaccinated. Doing so will avoid unnecessary panic among citizens and businesses while minimising the impact on livelihoods.