Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Monthly recovery of the retail sector in India, which largely comprised of MSMEs, has neared pre-Covid level for the month of February. Retail sales touched 93 per cent during the month in comparison to February 2020. From 63 per cent in July, the sector recovered in August to 52 per cent and 70 per cent in October, according to the industry body Retailers Association of India’s (RAI). The association is now expecting a full recovery in March. “There is a good possibility that the recovery in March will be 100 per cent since March 2020 was when the government enforced lockdown. Ideally, we should do more than last year’s March. However, we still need to wait-and-watch as to when retailers will start having real growth over pre-pandemic level,” Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI told Financial Express Online.
The growth came amid the rising number of Covid cases in the country. Five states including Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu, continued to report a surge in the daily new cases. 79.73 per cent of the new cases were reported from these states in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry had said in a statement on Tuesday. Maharashtra reported the highest daily new cases at 15,051 followed by Punjab with 1,818 while Kerala reported 1,054 new cases. However, RAI hoped that the current surge won’t have an impact on the recovery of the sector.
“The challenge of pandemic in some parts of the country is still there. We hope that even if the government enforces partial lockdown, it won’t impact the consumer sentiment and the recovery,” Rajagopalan added. Meanwhile, the total vaccination coverage in India has crossed 3.29 crore with Monday witnessing the highest vaccinations in a day — over 3 million doses.
According to the 13th edition of the Retail Business Survey by RAI, consumer durables and quick service restaurants (QSR) categories showed positive growth of 15 per cent and 18 per cent year-on-year respectively in February. On the other hand, categories like footwear, beauty, wellness & personal care, sports goods and food & grocery showed “steady month-on-month recovery on a Y-o-Y comparison, signalling growth from the month of March 2021,” RAI said. Moreover, recovery across regions, according to RAI, which has over 15,000 members, showed steady improvement with Eastern India indicating positive growth of 2 per cent in February while Southern & Northern India recovering better with sales nearing pre-Covid-19 levels at -6 per cent and -9 per cent YoY respectively. On the other hand, Western India progressed slower at -16 per cent in February 2021.