Retail businesses across regions are nearing recovery indicating consumer sentiments have improved considerably in the country. In categories like Consumer Durables & Electronics, Food & Groceries and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), the sentiments have fully recovered and are indicating double-digit growth on pre-pandemic levels, according to the 20th edition of the Retail Business Survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI).
The survey report released Wednesday indicates that retail sales in September were 96 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels (September 2019), as against 88 per cent in August 2021. A 26 per cent growth in sales was witnessed in September this year as compared to the corresponding month last year.
Sports Goods, Apparel and Clothing have also started to pick up as socializing picks up and offices return to some level of normalcy. Categories such as Beauty & Wellness, which include Salons, Footwear and Jewellery, are yet to catch up to the pre-pandemic levels of sales.
“The retail sector has started showing signs of recovery with businesses indicating sales that are almost equal to the pre-pandemic levels. With consumer sentiments looking up, Dussehra and Diwali could well be the turnaround time for retail businesses, provided there is no third wave of the pandemic,” states Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI).
Even as the industry is looking forward to basking in the glow of the festive season, LocalCircles’ consumer survey for September-October, based on 115,000 responses from over 38,000 households located across 396 districts, reveals that the percentage of households planning to spend during the festive season has doubled from 30 per cent in May to 60 per cent in September.
The major festive season beginning from October this year to the end of December generally sees people taking advantage of the various special sales to make major purchases like smartphones, consumer electronics, white goods, automobiles to fashion and beauty-related products, along with festive foods and groceries. The festival or pooja-related products is another big category.
The online survey - with 44 per cent respondents from Metros and big cities, 31 per cent from tier 2 cities and 25 per cent respondents from tier 3 and 4 towns and rural areas - reveals that 52 per cent of the households are likely to do online shopping or avail services of local stores for home delivery.
In terms of the category of products, 72 per cent propose shopping for food including dry fruits, traditional sweets, chocolates, etc., in keeping with the festive spirit, while the second-biggest category is fashion and beauty products with 67 per cent planning to spend on clothes.
For industries banking heavily on festive spending to make profits and clear inventories, 55 per cent of consumers indicated plans to spend on smartphones and consumer electronics. Bargain hunters or as yet indecisive buyers account for 49 per cent of the respondents who plan to firm decisions based on the value for money offers.