The Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Monday voiced concerns about the proposed blanket suspension of operations for retail stores, malls, and restaurants during the G20 Summit, which is set to take place in Delhi from September 8 -10. Citing the economic impact on the retail sector, the industry body urged the Delhi government to allow at least partial retail operations. 

It added that Delhi boasts a rich culinary heritage and closing markets would deprive visitors of the opportunity to savour authentic Indian dishes, an important part of our cultural presentation.

In a statement, RAI said it commends the Delhi government’s decision to declare a three-day public holiday in the capital but  also urged the State government to revisit the comprehensive shutdown of retail operations. “Pledging complete adherence to any Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) provided, RAI suggests a more measured approach to closures, potentially focusing on peak times or specific areas close to G20 venues like Lutyens Delhi,” the statement added. 

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of RAI, remarked, “Retail is integral to Delhi’s cultural identity. Entirely shutting down retail and food & beverage establishments during the G20 Summit would deprive international visitors of experiencing India’s unique shopping and culinary scenes. We urge the Delhi government to allow at least partial retail operations to promote the ‘Sell in India’ initiative in tandem with ‘Make in India’.”

In its petition to the Delhi government, the industry body said that a three-day total closure would “significantly impact the retail sector economically, potentially jeopardizing the livelihoods of numerous employees and their families.”

Rahul Mehta, Chief Mentor Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) said, “The closure of shops and malls in Delhi for the three days is poised to significantly impact apparel retail sales. Weekends contribute nearly 40 per cent of a store’s weekly sales, translating to more than 10 per cent of the sales budget for August. This proportion is substantial. While we understand and value the government’s security considerations, we are willing to collaborate. Nonetheless, we had hoped for a more feasible approach, such as designated closure hours, a more precisely defined geographical scope, among other regulated approaches.”