Region-wise, western India was the most impacted in April with a contraction of 72%, followed by 45% in the north.

Retail storeImage for representation - IANS
Money Retail Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 21:06

As India battles the severe second wave of COVID-19 and states undergo lockdowns, retailers across the country have witnessed a sales de-growth of 49% in April compared to the same period of 2019, according to a survey by the Retailers Association of India. In March, the nationwide sales de-growth was recorded at 12%, showed the survey. Region-wise, western India was the most impacted in April with a contraction of 72%, followed by 45% in the north. South and eastern India witnessed a contraction of 40% and 38%, respectively, in retail sales last month.

Among the sectors, sales of sports goods and footwear contracted by 66% and 61%, respectively, followed by a 59% de-growth in both jewellery and beauty, wellness and personal care categories. Other categories - food and grocery, apparel and clothing, quick service restaurant and consumer durables and electronics -- witnessed a sales contraction of 49%, 47%, 45% and 31%, respectively.

Earlier this month, the industry body urged the government to take steps for capital infusion into the retail industry with ECLGS benefits and loan moratorium in the wake of the lockdowns, restrictions, and their impact on the retail sector. Speaking about the state of the Indian retail industry, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, said: "The retail industry in India has been in a perpetual paradox ever since the first set of restrictions began last year in March 2020. The businesses and the workforce in retail need to be cushioned by the government or the local authorities to ease off their hardships.” He further said that two most important and immediate steps that can prevent this industry from collapsing are to prioritise vaccination of the last mile workers and to urgently provide financial support. 

RAI has recommended that the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of India step in to bring some relief to the mounting stress on the retail business in the wake of second wave of Covid-19. It further sought a moratorium on principal and interest for six months for the 26 stressed sectors. RAI also asked the government and the RBI to mandate banks to give ad-hoc working capital loans of 30 % more than current limits so that critical payments like salaries and wages can be made, among other recommendations.

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