RAI seeks urgent support for workers in retail industry amid COVID second wave

By: |
May 13, 2021 3:32 PM

With the days of the lockdown continuing to extend in various parts of the country, RAI said it is getting increasingly difficult for retailers to retain employees and to keep their businesses afloat, and there is a need to inject capital into the industry.

RAI said millions of 'last mile workers' (LMWs) of the retail industry are the constant point of contact for citizens of this nation.

Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Thursday said workers and businesses in the retail industry are in need of urgent support as the restrictions to combat the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them hard.

With the days of the lockdown continuing to extend in various parts of the country, RAI said it is getting increasingly difficult for retailers to retain employees and to keep their businesses afloat, and there is a need to inject capital into the industry.

“Retailers need to pay salaries, minimum electricity, rentals, property taxes, etc. even if the businesses are shut due to lockdown. The cash inflow of the industry has come to a standstill, while the fixed operating costs remain intact,” RAI said in a statement.

The immense financial stress faced by the retail sector will adversely impact both livelihood and the exposures of financial institutions to the sector as retailers start to become insolvent, it added.

“Millions of MSME (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) suppliers too get no payment from the industry participants,” RAI said.

Commenting on the current state of the retail industry, RAI Chief Executive Officer Kumar Rajagopalan said: “The Retailers Association of India believes that the two most important and immediate steps that can prevent this industry from collapsing are to prioritise vaccination of the last mile workers and to urgently provide financial support measures.”

RAI said millions of ‘last mile workers’ (LMWs) of the retail industry are the constant point of contact for citizens of this nation. These are people who work in retail stores selling essential goods and medicines, workers delivering goods to customers, and restaurant staff, among others.

“Vaccinating the LMWs on priority is extremely important to curb the spread of the virus, and safeguarding the interests of citizens,” it added. Rajagopalan said the retail industry in India has been in a perpetual paradox ever since the first set of restrictions began last year in March 2020. “The businesses and the workforce in retail need to be cushioned by the government or the local authorities to ease off their hardships,” he said.

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