Nevermind the ghost malls. Indian retailers set to step up hiring this year

Hiring trends are the strongest in categories such as electronics and gadgets, followed by beauty and personal care, and fashion and lifestyle, according to a report by recruitment firm GI Group

Suneera Tandon
First Published9 May 2024
The report pointed to a significant gap in skilling in roles such as sales and marketing roles, and technology and analytics. (Mint)
The report pointed to a significant gap in skilling in roles such as sales and marketing roles, and technology and analytics. (Mint)

More than half of Indian retailers (52%) are planning to onboard fresh graduates this year, while two out of five (38%) retailers are seeking to recruit experienced professionals, according to a report by staffing and recruitment firm GI Group.

In 2023, the retail industry experienced an 8% rise in job applications, while demand surged by 18%, indicating a strong interest in retail hiring. This was driven by retailers continuing their expansion across tier-1 and tier-2 cities.

In fact, tier-1 cities witnessed the highest influx of applicants, accounting for 58.49% of the total, followed by tier-2 and tier-3 towns, according to the report. The report anticipates this distribution pattern to hold through this year, reflecting ongoing industry trends.

Hiring trends are strongest in categories such as electronics and gadgets, followed by beauty and personal care, and fashion and lifestyle. These trends are in line with changes in the retail market post-pandemic that saw more households buy appliances. 

Also read: Why a warm December has clothing retailers waiting for a summer comeback

The beauty and personal care market has exploded too with several retailers including Reliance Retail, Shoppers Stop and Tata group companies having expanded their presence in the market for beauty retail, requiring more personnel.

According to the report, 87% of retail applicants in 2023 were aged between 18 and 30, signaling a strong inclination among the youth towards careers in retail.

Ghost malls

The data also reflects the rapid expansion by offline retailers over the past couple of years. 

For instance, gross leasing stood at 2.8 million square feet in the first half of 2023, according to real estate consulting firm CBRE, far outstripping new retail supply in the market. 

The vacancy rate—the percentage of vacant space in a given mall—declined sharply after the pandemic due to robust leasing on the back of aggressive expansion plans of retailers, coupled with limited availability of quality retail spaces, the report said.

GI Group’s report also signalled a significant uptick in hiring trends in the e-commerce and logistics sectors as more shoppers who turned to delivery platforms during the pandemic lockdowns stayed with the habit. 

Skilling gaps

Meanwhile, the logistics sector faced a 13.89% decline in active jobs during the December quarter, attributed to challenges during peak season fulfillment. However, the onset of 2024 saw a promising 10.24% increase in new job postings, with projections of continued growth leading up to this year's peak season, it said.

“India’s retail, e-commerce and logistics sectors have witnessed phenomenal growth fueled by factors such as increasing internet penetration, smartphone adoption, and a burgeoning middle class,” said Sonal Arora, Country Manager at GI Group Holding. “This growth has led to a surge in demand for efficient logistics solutions to handle last-mile delivery challenges, especially in tier II and tier III cities.”

Also read: Airport looks, resort styles goad retailers to stock up on vacation wear

However, amid this growth, challenges persist. For instance, the report points to significant gap in skilling with 83% of retailers expressing a desire to close skill gaps in sales and marketing roles, followed by logistics (77%) and tech and analytical skills.

Additionally, diversity hiring is a focus, with 30% of retailers seeking female candidates and 40% of e-commerce firms prioritizing such initiatives.

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