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Walmart Inc, which owns e-commerce marketplace Flipkart in India, retained its top spot in market research organization Euromonitor International’s India retail rankings for 2020 with rival Amazon taking the second place.

The Tata group saw its ranking drop from five in 2019 to number six, while the Aditya Birla Group at number seven in 2019 saw its rank dip to number eight in the same period as e-commerce took precedence while those with significant offline presence suffered on account of lockdowns. Euromonitor’s annual rankings were based on the value of goods sold by Indian retailers across segments such as grocery, apparel, lifestyle, and pharmacy from January to December 2020. Overall retail sales declined in 2020, the market research organization said, without revealing numbers.

Reliance Group, which runs Reliance Retail with presence across online and offline retailing in multiple categories ranked third, the same as a year ago. Avenue Supermarts, which runs the DMart chain of supermarkets, improved its rankings moving up to the fifth spot from sixth in the previous year. Paytm parent One97 Communications Ltd moved up one spot from its earlier rank.

The India-specific list is part of the “Top 100 Retailers in Asia 2021" rankings released by Euromonitor International on Monday. For India, the top 10 retailers were ranked.

The report covered the overall retail industry in the Asia-Pacific including markets such as Indonesia, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and India.

Asia Pacific’s retail industry registered a 4% decline in sales in 2020 as lockdowns imposed to contain the covid-19 pandemic battered sales. The region, however, reported a double-digit growth in e-commerce in 2020.

Tech giants in the region such as Alibaba and JD.com drove the industry, the report said, with China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd topping the Asia rankings.

India reported a decline in overall retail sales in 2020 after registering double-digit value growth over the last few years, the research organization said.

After a year of decline in 2020, retailing in India is set to report an “immediate strong rebound" to growth in current value terms in 2021, said analysts at Euromonitor. This, they said, will be driven by expansion led by large format stores and investments in e-commerce.

“In the forecast period, store-based retailers, such as modern grocery retailers, are expected to look towards second-tier and third-tier cities for growth opportunities. As more brands invest in e-commerce and with the rising smartphone penetration rate in the country, mobile e-commerce is expected to see a particularly strong increase, the highest within retailing in the forecast period," analysts at Euromonitor said.

India’s lockdown last year led to a surge in online sales. Essential stores were operational, but it was mostly the small mom-pop stores that benefited as shoppers picked proximity and convenience to buy groceries. Large format modern trade stores were significantly impacted. Overall, grocery sales grew well. More discretionary retail categories such as apparel, footwear, sporting goods, and accessories were impacted.

New models emerged as consumers experimented more with hyper-local deliveries. “Some consumers preferred to shop locally, popping into traditional grocery retailers and convenience stores to minimize the time spent in stores. At the same time, grocery retailers partnered with food delivery companies such as Swiggy and even ride hailing companies such as Uber to deliver groceries to consumers’ homes. With low footfall in stores selling non-essential products even after reopening post-lockdown, players had to think of new ways to attract consumers," it said.

India’s retail landscape is set to change as online commerce gains significant currency following the coronavirus outbreak. Some of the world’s largest retailers are now engaged in a fierce battle for a share of the consumer’s wallet. Recently, Tata Digital, a unit of Tata Sons, acquired a majority stake in online retailer Big Basket. More retailers are building assets, both offline and online. Reliance Retail’s JioMart is set to expand into more categories after it started selling smartphones and white goods. Last year, Reliance Retail Ventures also bought over Future Group’s vast retail assets giving the company an edge in India’s retail market.

Euromonitor noted that e-commerce players such as Amazon, Walmart-owned Flipkart, and Reliance have already partnered with traditional grocery retailers.

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