With businesses recovering steadily, retail rentals have started to climb and moving towards 2019 levels for the first time in 18 months. The Retailers Association of India, in a survey, said retail sales rebounded to 96% of what it used to be before COVID-19 in September.
And in recent weeks, it has surpassed the pre-pandemic trajectory amid heightened purchases of food to fashion products, to jewellery ahead of Diwali. The rental market is firming up – retail rentals has dropped 20-25% on an overall basis in key malls and high streets as the pandemic wreaked havoc on stores and malls over the past several months.
Pankaj Renjhen, joint managing director, Anarock, said the rental market is picking up. He pointed out that while sports and athleisure, fashion and lifestyle, and footwear among some segments have fared well over the months, there is still pain in the overall market. “Businesses such as restaurants, travel and gift retailing shrank during the pandemic.” Renjhen believes an overall rental recovery is only expected by March.
According to the 18th edition of the Retail Business Survey by the Retailers Association of India, retail sales in July 2021 were at 72% of the pre-pandemic levels (July 2019), compared to 50% in June 2021. Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, had said there is a possibility of significant sales recovery for retail businesses as the festive season approaches, provided restrictions on modern retail are relaxed across the country allowing smooth operations and return to normalcy. “Retail is the fastest growing sector in terms of employment generation, and second only to agriculture in terms of the number of people it directly employs, besides creating indirect employment opportunities. The opening up of retail will give businesses a chance to recover, saving the livelihood of millions who are dependent on the retail ecosystem.”