The retail industry is yet to recover from the onslaught of the second wave of the pandemic and the sales of the segment remained 50 percent below June 2019, showed the results of a recent survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI). However, according to the RAI survey, the industry also showed progressive recovery compared to May. Retailers had reported 79 percent sales de-growth in May in comparison to the corresponding period in 2019 as the country grappled with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Retail businesses continue to be stressed and are finding it difficult to sustain due to restricted timing of operations and weekend closures," said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.
Region-wise, the survey revealed, North India, whose sales in May were 83 percent below pre-Covid levels (May 2019), improved sequentially to register 43 percent de-growth in June (as compared to June, 2019). The West and South India were 50 percent below, while sales in East India were 55 percent lower than the pre-pandemic period, said the survey.
Quick service restaurants or QSRs led the recovery in the retail pack and their sales stood only 10 percent below June 2019, while it had declined 70 percent in May, according to the survey. Food and grocery, which come under essentials and have been relatively less impacted due to the lockdowns, unsurprisingly reported 7 percent de-growth in June. Sports goods and jewllery were the most-impacted categories with sales de-growth of 66 percent and 64 percent, respectively, said survey. Apparel and clothing sales stood at 52 percent below June 2019 and beauty, wellness and personal care 57 percent below the corresponding period in 2019, as per the survey.
The retail segment was inching towards recovery after the onslaught of the first wave and sales were almost at 90-95 percent of the pre-COVID levels but the second wave again derailed this growth. Rajagopalan of RAI told Moneycontrol in May that the sector has lost $25 billion-$30 billion, which is more than half of the $40 billion-$45 billion in business generated during April and May.
Retailers have now pinned hopes on the festive season as most of the country usually steps out during the period and shopping picks up.“We expect recovery to start from Q2 and progressively get better in Q3 and Q4. This year, Diwali and Dussehra are early, so this would also help in bringing back the business on track,” Venugopal Nair, CEO and MD of Shoppers Stop, told investors on an earnings call in May.