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Apparel and clothing retailers have remained under pressure with sales down 12% year-on-year in November.
Apparel and clothing retailers have remained under pressure with sales down 12% year-on-year in November.

Retailers report 13% dip in November sales

  • Retailers are moving towards 2021 with cautious optimism, said RAI, especially amid reports of the new strain of coronavirus in the UK along with night curfews and restrictions in India

NEW DELHI: The festival season helped sales of appliances, apparel and packaged food and grocery November, but total sales remained 13% lower year-on-year, according to findings of a survey by Retailers Association of India (RAI).

The 10th edition of RAI’s survey was conducted among 68 retailers during November. The findings pointed to a steady month-on-month recovery in retail businesses across India even as sales in November fell 13% on year. To be sure, last year Diwali was celebrated in October.

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The survey covered categories such as electronics, quick service restaurants, food and grocery, apparel and footwear, among others.

Retailers are moving towards 2021 with cautious optimism, said RAI, especially amid reports of the new strain of coronavirus in the UK along with night curfews and restrictions in India.

For the full year, several retail categories are expected to report a decline in business. The industry is hopeful of achieving about 85% of pre-pandemic level business only in the next six months, RAI said in its statement.

“While the festive and the muted wedding season aided some recovery for certain segments, the lack of inbound travel of non-resident Indians during the winter has had a negative impact on sales," Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said. India’s retail industry is estimated at $854 billion.

November was marked by Diwali festivities and also coincided with the wedding season. Consumer durables and electronics category continued to recover with a sales growth of 12% (y-o-y) while food and grocery retailers too indicated growth of 5%, as per the survey.

Apparel and clothing retailers have remained under pressure with sales down 12%. In October, apparel and clothing sales were down 30% year-on-year. QSR sales were down 25% in November compared to a year ago period, while that of beauty and personal care retailers fell 29% during the period. The category had reported a 55% dip in sales in October.

Jewellery sales showed a 21% decline compared to a 45% dip in October.

Dwindling footfalls in stores and lack of consumer appetite on spending discretionary items has hit business across categories. In the first half of the current financial year, RAI said, a sample set of 30 listed retail companies showed sales de-growth of 54% year-on-year. In fact, this fiscal, organised apparel retailers are expected to report a 40-45% decline in revenue, India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) had said in a November research note.

“Apart from the pent-up demand that resulted from the lockdown, the festive season too played a crucial role in making up for most of the lost sales in the early months of the lockdown. The post-festive period will be even more critical for making that growth sustainable," said Pradeep Bakshi, managing director & CEO, Voltas Limited. The period between March and June typically accounts for over 50% of its room air-conditioners.

Levels of recovery, however, differ across regions. Western and eastern India are indicating a slower recovery with sales down 18% and 17% y-o-y, respectively, while northern and southern regions are both progressing at -9%, RAI said in its survey.

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