KOCHI: There is a growing demand in the state to formulate a retail policy to make Kerala the retail hub of the country, according to industry bodies. "Kerala has the potential to be the next Dubai or Singapore, the global leaders in facilitating retail tourism," said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retail Association of India (RAI).
The retail sector in India has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced segments of the economy. The overall retail market in India is expected to register 12 per cent growth per annum. The attempts by states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to facilitate growth in this segment have resulted in them formulating industry- specific retail policies.
The demand to formulate a retail policy comes in the backdrop of the Kerala Government's attempt to amend the archaic Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishment Act 1960. Single window clearance system for licences, finance scheme to support small-time retailers, simplified labour laws are a few broader themes in which retail policy pioneers like Maharashtra and Karnataka have worked on.
"Kerala with its high tourism prospects, rising per capita income, literacy rate and technology penetration, already has the advantage in terms of leading a retail revolution if the necessary policies are set in place," said Kumar. He said a retail outfit in states like Kerala has to secure around 30 licences to become functional, which is a highly undesirable scenario for the development of the segment.
Industry experts say the inclusion of retail establishments catering to grocery and food products under the Essential Services Act, 24x7 working hours, provision of paid overtime and the ability of women employees to work round-the-clock will go a long way to ensure a friendly atmosphere for the retail industry in Kerala. According to business houses, the arrival of GST has helped inter-states goods movement. RAI also expressed its concern on the non-disclosure of financial results of large e-commerce companies in India.
The retail sector accounts for over 11 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and around 9 per cent of the total employment.