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New Delhi: Retail sales in August reached 88% of pre-pandemic levels or August 2019 buoyed by early festive season demand, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said in its 19th edition of the Retail Business Survey.

Peak festive season sales combined with a wider inoculation drive are likely to drive footfall for retailers in the coming months. Some retailers are hoping to cross pre-pandemic sales numbers, RAI said in its survey conducted among several large and mid-sized retailers across categories.

Quick service restaurants and food and grocery chains led the recovery in August.

In July, retail sales stood at 72% of pre-pandemic levels indicating 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.

Some retailers could surpass pre-pandemic sales this festive season, said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.

“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.

Region-wise—retailers in North and South India reported business inching close to August 2021 with sales at 98% and 97% 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% and 81% of pre-pandemic levels (August 2019) against 57% & 69% respectively in July 2021," RAI said.

As expected, quick service restaurants (QSR) reported 12% growth sales in August 2021 as compared to August 2019; while the food and groceries category grew 4%.

“However, beauty and wellness, which includes salons, apparel, footwear and jewellery are yet to catch up to the pre-pandemic levels of sales. The overall industry sentiment will improve when clothing and accessories category shows growth," RAI said.

 

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