Macro Economy

Retail industry inching closer to pre-pandemic levels: RAI

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on September 15, 2021

North, Southern India lead the recovery trends

Retailers in the country are inching closer to the pre-pandemic levels of sales, with some even hopeful of clocking higher sales compared to 2019 in the upcoming festival season.

According to the latest survey by Retailers Association of India(RAI), in August sales of the retail industry was pegged at about 88 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels (August 2019). In comparison, retail sales were pegged at about 72 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in July.

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Northern and Southern India led the recovery trends in August. In North India, retail businesses clocked sales at 98 per cent of pre-Covid levels while retailers in South India registered sales at 97 per cent of pre-Covid levels. Retailers in Western and Eastern regions are also witnessing positive recovery and garnered sales at 76% and 81% of pre-pandemic levels.

Maintaining cautious optimism

In a statement, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India , said, “As the festive season approaches and the inoculation drive picks up pace across the country, we are hopeful that the festive shopping this year will drive positive growth for most retailers, with the possibility of some retailers doing even better sales than the pre-pandemic levels.” He added that though recovery at the moment looks encouraging across categories, retailers continue to maintain cautious optimism due to the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic.

In terms of categories, the quick service restaurants sector witnessed a growth of 12 per cent in August 2021 compared to August 2019. Food and grocery segment also witnessed a sales growth of four percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

However, Beauty & Wellness, which includes salons, apparel, footwear and jewellery are yet to catch up to the pre-pandemic levels of sales., the survey noted. Beauty and wellness and personal care segment was back at about 69 per cent of pre-pandemic sales. Meanwhile, the footwear segment is back to 83 per cent of the pre-pandemic sales. Apparel and clothing segment too is yet to get back to the pre-pandemic level (88 per cent of pre-pandemic levels).

“The overall industry sentiment will improve when the clothing and accessories category shows growth. RAI hopes that the festive season will bring back cheer to the retail industry across sectors and those employed in it,” the industry body added.

Published on September 14, 2021

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