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NEW DELHI: Despite various states having initiated unlock measures after a steady fall in second wave covid cases, retail sales across India were down 50% in June 2021 when compared with numbers from June 2019, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) said in its monthly update, released on Monday.

“Retail businesses continue to be stressed and are finding it difficult to sustain due to restricted timing of operations and weekend closures," Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said in a statement.

Retail sales had slumped nearly 80% May as the second covid wave surged across the country. The lifting of restrictions has since helped boost mobility and demand.

Food and grocery followed by quick service restaurants fared better, with both categories reporting minimal contraction in business in June.

But those selling sports goods, jewellers and footwear reported the steepest decline in business. Sales of retailers selling sporting goods were down 66% in June compared to June 2019; jewellery sales were down 64% while those of footwear retailers were down 61%, RAI said. Business for apparel retailers was down 52% in June 2021, while that consumer durables and electronics fell 46%.

Several sates moved to lift restrictions early-to-mid June as covid cases peaked in India. The second wave was far more severe, and while there was no pan-India lockdown, a surge in cases and subsequent state-wise restrictions dented demand during the June quarter.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, malls are yet to open up. RAI has made several representations asking the state to reopen malls and shopping centres in the state.

Retailers in northern India reported slightly better recovery in sales, with those in eastern part of the country reporting the weakest recovery for the month.

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