Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: MSME-dominated retail sector in the country is hoping for a full recovery by next month. With the growing rate of vaccination, businesses are increasingly optimistic, though with a degree of caution, about better customer footfall across segments in September and October to revive the overall retail market. The confidence has been on the back of month-on-month growth in recovery after the second wave of Covid, which struck in February this year, pulled the sector back from complete recovery in the following one or two months.
“In the macro scheme of things, most definitely August has been much better than last August for the restaurant sector. A lot of players have exceeded 80 per cent of their pre-Covid sales in casual dining space at least. However, every city has a different recovery path as every city has been under different restrictions. For instance, restaurant timing in Delhi has been normalised but not in Noida while timing in Gururgram got normalised prior to any other city but Mumbai’s timings are still restricted, etc.,” Kabir Suri, Co-founder and Director, Azure Hospitality told Financial Express Online. Azure owns and manages brands such as Mamagoto, Dhaba Estd 1986, Sly Granny, Foxtrot, etc. Suri is also the new President of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).
Azure was able to pivot its business towards the delivery model to tide over Covid-related challenges. Suri said that the delivery model now contributes to 35 per cent of the business in comparison to 6-7 per cent in the past. “People who have been able to do delivery have been able to recover up to 90 per cent. For certain brands of ours, we are close to FY19 level recovery city-wise,” he added.
Importantly, according to the latest edition of the Retail Business Survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI), retail sales in August 2021 were at 88 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels (August 2019), as against 72 per cent in July 2021. In categories, Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) showed signs of growth with 12 per cent sales in August 2021 as compared to August 2019 sales, while the food & groceries category indicated a growth of 4 per cent. However, beauty & wellness, which included salons, apparel, footwear and jewellery were yet to catch up to the pre-pandemic levels of sale.
“Laggards are still the garments, footwear, jewellery, and beauty & personal care. The indication of customer cheer is related to these items while electronics, food, and QSR are doing well. Consumer durable is on the right path as well. We can get the remaining 12 per cent recovery by October if there is no third wave. Retailers are sitting with cautious optimism as we are seeing customers now coming out for shopping and eating,” Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI told Financial Express Online.
Prithviraj Kothari who runs RiddiSiddhi Bullions and is also the National President at India Bullion and Jewellers Association said that while there is some Covid fear among customers however jewellery showrooms are witnessing increased business over the past few months to an extent that jewellery market is seeing up to 80 per cent pre-Covid recovery. “The market should be smoothly growing now and demand should be picking up further as the festive season is ahead. There is already an 80 per cent recovery at showrooms from 2019 levels. Retailers are also excited about the upcoming marriage season while the gold price has also been stable now to around Rs 47,000 from over Rs 57,000 in August last year that would encourage customers to shop,” Kothari told Financial Express Online.