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Omicron spread hurt retail sales in December

For December, RAI said while overall figures appear positive, the impact was more visible in discretionary spends for categories such as beauty, wellness, and personal care where sales fell 7% last month when compared with December 2019. (Photo: iStock)Premium
For December, RAI said while overall figures appear positive, the impact was more visible in discretionary spends for categories such as beauty, wellness, and personal care where sales fell 7% last month when compared with December 2019. (Photo: iStock)

  • India is witnessing a surge in daily covid-19 cases, in what has been termed the third wave. This has prompted state-level restrictions such as night curfews, ban on large gatherings, timing curbs on opening of non-essential stores as well as closure of cinema halls and schools in some cities

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NEW DELHI: Domestic retail sales grew 7% in December 2021 over December 2019 or pre-pandemic levels, but slowed down sequentially as the spread of covid-19 cases, especially those of the Omicron variant, led to fresh curbs in parts of the country, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said in its 23rd edition of the Retail Business Survey.

Several retailers reported a dip in business towards the end of December.

“Retail business was on a steady growth trajectory during most of December, however, the pace of growth was seen dropping off significantly towards the last week of December due to the fresh sets of curbs imposed in most parts of the country owing to the third wave of the pandemic," Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said.

Compared to year ago, business was up 26% pan-India, RAI said on Tuesday.

The industry body represents large- and small-scale retailers across grocery, apparel, furnishings, jewellery, quick service restaurants, among others.

India is witnessing a surge in daily covid-19 cases, in what has been termed the third wave. This has prompted state-level restrictions such as night curfews, ban on large gatherings, timing curbs on opening of non-essential stores as well as closure of cinema halls and schools in some cities.

For December, RAI said while overall figures appear positive, the impact was more visible in discretionary spends for categories such as beauty, wellness, and personal care where sales fell 7% last month when compared with December 2019. Retailers of furniture and furnishings reported a 5% dip in business compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Food and grocery as well as quick service restaurants reported 24% and 16% growth over pre-pandemic levels, respectively. Sales across consumer durables and electronics grew 26% but dropped month-on-month. Retailers of sports goods reported a 14% growth, while jewellery and footwear retailers were up 9% and 7%, respectively. Meanwhile, apparel and clothing retail sales grew 2% over the 2019 period.

RAI has appealed to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to instruct state governments to refrain from imposing restrictions based on positivity rate and consider hospitalisations as the criteria to determine severity of curbs.

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