As local level restrictions and lockdowns come up in several parts of the country amid resurging Covid cases, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) has raised concerns that such ad hoc measures have started to impact the retail businesses.
In a statment, the industry body said that there is a need for a coordinated effort for handling the second wave of the pandemic rather than creating diverse restrictions at local levels like the local weekend lockdowns, shutdowns at 8 p.m., arbitrary testing inside malls, among others.
About the concerns faced by the retail industry, Association CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said: “RAI has been highlighting the fact that formal retail spaces, especially shopping centres are controlled spaces and have SOPs in place. They have got the ability to adhere to hygiene standards and can definitely ensure social distancing, as compared to local markets.”
He added that the government could also consider these places to be used to vaccinate citizens and speed up the inoculation drive.
“However, as soon as pandemic seems to surge, a new wave of restrictions seem to apply on these places first, which beats the logic in our mind. These extemporised restrictions are creating setbacks for retailers as the already stressed retail businesses are getting further interrupted and in turn dampening consumer sentiment,” Rajagopalan said.
RAI sai that removing roadblocks at the local level will not only help retailers to plan ahead, but will also help them make decisions on hiring. It will also help the exchequer in the form of taxes collected by the state governments like GST, among others which is important to help revive the economy.
Most importantly, it will be in the interest of consumers as it will bring convenience to them, it said.
Recovery will need unconventional solutions and government support, it said, adding that at this juncture, all efforts are required to boost the local economy and help revive retail, saving millions of jobs.
RAI has also appealed to the Ministry of Health & Welfare to prioritise Covid-19 vaccination for frontline retail workers.