With the early festive season, retail sales in India in August 2021 recovered to 88 percent of pre-Covid levels or August 2019. Peak festive season sales combined with a wider inoculation drive are likely to drive footfall for retailers in the coming months and on the back of this, some retailers are hoping to cross pre-pandemic sales numbers, RAI said in its 19th edition of the Retail Business Survey, conducted among several large and mid-sized retailers across categories.
In July, retail sales stood at 72 percent of pre-pandemic levels indicating a month-on-month recovery in sales.
Recovery in August was sharpest in North and South India, while West India, where malls and restaurants continued working under restrictions until last month, was still lagging.
Region-wise—retailers in North and South India reported business inching close to August 2021 with sales at 98 percent and 97 percent respectively, when compared to pre-pandemic levels of August 2019.
“West and East of India are looking hopeful of recovery in the next few months and have indicated sales at 76 percent and 81 percent of pre-pandemic levels (August 2019) against 57 percent and 69 percent respectively in July 2021," RAI said.
Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India said that some retailers could surpass pre-pandemic sales this festive season. “As the festive season approaches and the inoculation drive picks up pace across the country, we are hopeful that the festive shopping this year will drive positive growth for most retailers, with the possibility of some retailers doing even better sales than the pre-pandemic levels," he said.
Rajagopalan said that while business recovery looks “encouraging" across categories, retailers continue to maintain cautious optimism in lieu of an impending third wave.
As expected, quick service restaurants (QSR) reported 12 percent growth sales in August 2021 as compared to August 2019; while the food and groceries category grew 4 percent.
“However, beauty and wellness, which includes salons, apparel, footwear, and jewelry are yet to catch up to the pre-pandemic levels of sales. The overall industry sentiment will improve when the clothing and accessories category shows growth," RAI said.