India’s shoppers are in no mood to hurry back to stores

The lockdown is being lifted in phases, but are consumers in India ready to do a return and do some heavy lifting of the retail sector?
Image Credit: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Businesses in India from car dealers to clothing retail chains are ready for customers as the economy reopens – but shoppers are holding back.

“While the supply situation seems to be nearly normal, so far, purchases are need-based,” analysts at Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers Ltd. wrote in a note, after speaking to more than 200 distributors, dealers and retailers across the nation.

The government allowed a phased lifting of lockdown restrictions from Monday, allowing shopping malls, restaurants and places of worship to reopen in areas where coronavirus infections are under control. While consumption, which accounts for 60 per cent of the economy, has been the driver of growth during previous stress periods, a central bank survey showed consumers were no longer confident.

Gone down and remaining there

Footfalls in stores selling non-essential items were down to 40-50 per cent of normal. Durables saw better-than-expected sales in May due to factors such as work and schooling from home, pent-up demand, and summer heat, but that demand fizzled out in early June, Anand Rathi said.

Automobile factories and dealerships are facing a grim situation, and many dealerships may close down and due to low footfalls and other financial issues, the analysts wrote. “A revival of private spending is the only hope for an economic turnaround,” they said.

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