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Retailers inch closer to full recovery in business in the fourth quarter, says apex body RAI


Retailersacross consumer durables, food, fashion andpersonal carenoted reduction in quantum of de-growth in sales as most segment have started to show improvement, saidRetailers Association of India(RAI) based on their latest Retail Business Survey. The apex body, which has 15000 retail members, added that sales in February were at 7% short of last year’s sales on a Y-o-Y comparison and at -18% in the third quarter of the fiscal.

In February, consumer durables and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) noted a positive growth of 15% and 18% (Y-o-Y) respectively. Categories such as footwear, beauty, wellness and personal care, sports goods and food and grocery are showing steady month-on-month recovery on a Y-o-Y comparison, signalling growth from the month of March, the survey added.

“It is heartening to see recovery across categories,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of RAI, adding, “We hope that the uncertainty regarding the rising cases of COVID-19 in a few states will not cast its shadow on the growth momentum with the rollout of the vaccine. Restrictions or not, it has now become imperative for every retailer to adopt phygital —be it social media, messaging platforms, or digital shopping in addition to their normal channels to align themselves with the changing consumer mindsets of the next normal.”

While eastern India indicated positive growth of 2% in February, south and north parts of the country recovered better with sales nearing pre-Covid levels at -6% and -9%. However, western parts of the country has progressed slow at -16% in the same time period.

Retailers are hopeful of achieving pre-pandemic levels of business in the first six months of 2021. RAI has urged to the Ministry of Health and Welfare to prioritise Covid-19 vaccination for frontline retail workers.

According to the apex body, retail in India – sized around USD 854 billion – is one of the country’s largest industries that makes up for over 10% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). Retail industry employs 46 million people, out of which 90% are in blue collar segment. Fashion and electronics contribute 50% to the total retail while food and other essentials account for the rest.

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