Retailers cautiously optimistic about 2021: RAI

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 28, 2020

Industry is hopeful of achieving about 85% of pre-pandemic levels of business in the next six months: Retailers Association of India

Retailers are looking at 2021 with cautious optimism after witnessing steady improvement in sales month-on-month coupled with positive consumer sentiment during this year’s festival season. But the industry is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

According to the 10th edition of the Retail Business Survey released by the Retailers Association of India, though the retail sector has been witnessing recovery in sales month-on-month, by November-end, the industry’s sales were still nearly 13 per cent short of last year’s sales on a year-on-year comparison.

“Levels of recovery differ across regions as restrictions begin to ease in a capricious manner across States. Western and Eastern India are indicating a slower recovery with sales at -18 per cent and -17 per cent, respectively (y-o-y), while Northern and Southern regions are both progressing at -9 per cent, on a y-o-y comparison,” the survey findings indicated.

Categories such as food & grocery and consumers durables & electronics witnessed much stronger recovery trends than other segments. The survey stated that the apparel and clothing segment, for instance, is still reeling under pressure at about -12 per cent year-on-year behind pre-pandemic levels.

Covid challenges

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said: “While the festival and the wedding season aided some recovery for certain segments, the lack of inbound travel of Non-Resident Indians during the winter has had a negative impact on sales. Retail businesses may get further impacted by international travel restrictions being imposed due to the new strain of the virus.

“Furthermore, with local level restrictions coming back into play, retailers are moving towards 2021 with cautious optimism. However, the industry is hopeful of achieving about 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels of business in the next six months.”.

The $854-billion retail industry will need unconventional solutions and government support for recovery and all efforts are required to boost the local economy and help revive retail, saving millions of jobs, he added.

Published on December 28, 2020

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