NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding hopes of a quick retail rebound amid easing restrictions across the country, a closer look at sales data suggests a long road to recovery.
According to the latest business survey, the Retailers Association of India (RAI), pan-India retail sales in June were half of what they were back during the pre-pandemic levels of June 2019.
However, this decline is still an improvement over retail sales in May 2021, which was down 79%, when most of the country was under some sort of a lockdown due to the renewed onslaught of the devastating Covid-19 wave.
“Retail businesses continue to be stressed and are finding it difficult to sustain due to restricted timing of operations and weekend closures,” RAI chief executive officer Kumar Rajagopalan said.
The most impacted category was sports goods, which saw a 66% decline in sales in June, followed by jewellery (-64%) and footwear (-61%).
Apparel and clothing sales stood at 52% below June 2019, consumer durable and electronic sales down 46% and beauty, wellness and personal care 57% below the corresponding period in 2019, as per the survey. As for consumer durables, the hike in product prices by companies due to rising input cost has also hampered demand.
The only bright spots were the categories which come under essentials. Quick service restaurants (QSR), where sales were down 10% in June compared to a 70% decline in May—both numbers compared with the corresponding periods in 2019.
Ditto for the food and grocery segment which witnessed a dip of just 7% compared to 34% in May. Figures have been compared with 2019 as the year-on-year comparison may not have given a fair picture, considering the nation was under a complete lockdown during the same time last year.
East zone witnessed the biggest fall in June this year at 55%, followed by west and south with declines of 50% each and north with a dip of 43% compared to June 2019.
Second wave of COVID derails recovery
June sales were better than in May 2021, which was 79% fall
The worst-hit segments include sports goods, which saw a 66% fall, followed by jewellery (-64%) and footwear (-61%)
Clothing sales fell 52% y-o-y while consumer durable and electronic declined 46%