Tamil Nadu

Retail showing signs of revival post lockdown

Slow pace: Many retail outlets recorded good business after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed.   | Photo Credit: RAGU R

When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, the retail sector in Tamil Nadu, including textile and consumer brands, took a severe hit with business falling immediately by 25%.

A year down the line, those at the helm of the retail outlets have realigned their strategies, embraced technology and learnt to operate with minimal workforce.

Business is now 80% up when compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. “Retail has bounced back much more strongly in non-metros. Non-metros are at 80% pre-COVID levels while it was closer to 65% in metros. Malls are still facing a challenge in comparison to high street stores,” said Suhail Sattar, chairman of the Chennai Chapter of the Retail Association of India and co-founder of Hasbro Clothing.

He said the lockdown had taught lessons like the need for multi-channel approach and scaling up investment in online and digital as medium.

“Post the lifting of lockdown, we have strengthened our online team and are following up consistently. At present, 2% of our business happens online and the aim now is to sell 20% online,” said P.A. Ravindran, general manager, The Chennai Silks.

K. Sivakumar, managing director of RmKV Silks, said, “We have touched 90% of our business – the weddings during the Tamil month of Thai helped us. We will get back our normal business by May or June.” But consumers were conscious about spending and casual shopping was not happening, he said.

In the electronics segment, footfalls had increased across markets and people were ready to spend on branded products considering they spent more time at home and they needed an upgrade.

“Brands have realised that lower and longer EMIs will help consumer upgrade/buy home appliances. An AC can be bought through EMI at just ₹2,999 which was not the case earlier at 0% interest and with additional gifts/warranty/cash backs,” said Vishal Bysani, vice-president – marketing of Viveks. Robotic vacuum cleaners and dishwashers today were reaching more homes as people realised it made doing the household chores easier, ensured better hygiene, and the cost could be recovered in less than 12 months considering an average salary for a domestic help was ₹3,000 to ₹5,000 a month, Mr. Bysani said.

Mr. Bysani said a few segments such as large screen television sets, dishwashers and washing machines were witnessing buoyancy in sales with a growth of 50-200%. Supplies remained a constraint but yet the product segments had been performing well.

According to Mr. Bysani many things had changed in the industry post lifting of lockdown - from supplier angle discussion have progressed in terms of better planning, more focus on available inventory and just in time inventory. “Internally has helped in-store space optimisation, increase store operations efficiency, better warehouse space and logistics management.”

Vijay Vasanth, CEO of Vasanth and Co, said that business in second tier cities had been good. “Those who moved from cities to their hometowns are now upgrading gadgets at their homes. Those working from home are buying ACs and installing at their home towns,” he added.

But the outlets in malls had been doing business at 50 to 60% of the pre-COVID-19 levels. “We are not seeing footfalls in our store housed in a mall when compared to a stand-alone store that we have in the city,” said a retailer. Another A retailer in a mall selling luggage and bags said after travel restrictions, his business had been down by 70%. “It would take at least another year for us to revive. We are considering closing one of our branches,” he said.

Munish Khanna, chief revenue officer of Express Avenue, said luxury and super premium brands were doing well.

“Many new films are slated for summer release. When that happens, people will come out of the OTT and come to multiplexes and this will increase retail sales,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 11:42:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/retail-showing-signs-of-revival-post-lockdown/article33957705.ece

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