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Retail business takes a hit amid Omicron wave in India: Survey

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Thanks to the fresh wave of the pandemic, new restrictions across the country are affecting shopping hours and compelling malls and stores to close down. Wholesale stockists are downsizing their inventories in anticipation of a decline in demand, and production is also slowing down.

Retail business takes a hit amid Omicron wave in India: Survey

The pace of growth in India's retail business has taken a hit since the last week of December due to fresh restrictions in most parts of the country owing to the third wave of the pandemic, according to Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI).

The RAI, in its 23rd edition Retail Business Survey, revealed that retail sales in the country in December 2021 rose by 7 percent over pre-pandemic levels (December 2019) and by 26 percent year-on-year(YoY) compared to December 2020.

The association represents Indian retailers as a unified voice and collaborates with stakeholders to make the right environment for India's modern retail industry to flourish.

It said that while the overall figures appear to be positive, the impact of the restrictions is visible at the category level with beauty, wellness & personal care plummeting 7 percent and furniture and furnishings falling by 5 percent. The two segments have fallen back into the red category when compared to pre-pandemic sales in the December 2019 period.

New restrictions across the country are affecting shopping hours and compelling malls and stores to close down. Wholesale stockists are downsizing their inventories in anticipation of a decline in demand, and production is also slowing down.

Other segments such as CDIT (26 percent growth), sports goods (14 percent growth), jewellery (9 percent growth), footwear (7 percent growth), and apparel & clothing (2 percent growth) all experienced a drop in sales, according to RAI.

Since the majority of the country's population is vaccinated, RAI has appealed to the Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to instruct state governments to abstain from imposing restrictions based on positivity rates and instead use hospitalisations as a benchmark for deciding the severity of restrictions.

This will ease the impact on livelihoods while avoiding unnecessary panic among citizens and businesses, said RAI.

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