With the gradual lifting of lockdowns across several states, retail sales in India have improved and in July 2021, they stood at 72 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels of July 2019, according to a survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI).
In June, the retail sales stood at 50 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels.
In a statement, the retailers’ body noted that retail businesses in the southern part of India have indicated a very sharp comeback in July 2021 with sales at 82 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels.
The western region is yet to improve and has indicated sales at 57 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
This is mainly because of prolonged curbs in Maharashtra that disrupted the smooth functioning of modern retail in the state, it said.
In categories, Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) recovered the best in July 2021 with sales at 97 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels (July 2019).
However, beauty & wellness segment, which includes salons, is still at 50 per cent of pre-pandemic sales, while apparel is at 63 per cent sales of the pre-pandemic levels in July 2021.
Speaking about the outlook of the retail industry in India, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said: “There is a possibility of significant sales recovery for retail businesses as the festive season approaches, provided restrictions on modern retail are relaxed across the country allowing smooth operations and return to normalcy.”
The industry body noted that retail is the fastest growing sector in terms of employment generation and is second only to agriculture in terms of the number of people it directly employs, besides creating indirect employment opportunities.
Opening up of retail will give businesses a chance at recovery, saving the livelihood of millions who are dependent on the retail ecosystem, it said.