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Indian retail sales plummet, but RAI points to early signs of recovery

A Cafe Coffee Day shuttered during India’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Indian retail sales figures reflect signs of recovery in the nation’s economy, even as the overall number shows a massive drop against last year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Retailers Association of India (RAI), in the fifth edition of its fortnightly business survey, reported a 63-per-cent year-on-year decline in retail sales during July. The massive decrease compares favourably with that recorded for June (67 per cent) and April (more than 80 per cent).

The trend towards recovery was most pronounced in the food & grocery and consumer durables product categories, but not apparent in the apparel, sports goods and beauty & wellness sectors.

The statistics signal challenges still facing retailers despite the easing of India’s lockdown last month.

“With Unlock 3.0 now being rolled out across the country, there is a possibility of significant sales recovery for retail businesses,” said RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan. “However, localised lockdowns, weekend curfews and not allowing formats like food courts and cinema halls to reopen are creating roadblocks on the path to revival.

“In places where local authorities have been supportive, there is confidence in the minds of consumers. If the retail industry continues to be under pressure, it will have a serious rippling effect on other sectors such as manufacturing, entertainment and artisans among others.”

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