Unlock 1.0: Indian retailers seek uniform reopening of stores

There needs to be uniform standard operating procedures for reopening process—permission to open stores; time restrictions; number and movement of staff and delivery vehicles; product pricing restrictions; number of customers; or odd/even store restrictions.

retail sector impact coronavirus RAI news

Retailers Association of India (RAI), the unified voice of Indian retailers lauded the Government’s guidelines allowing the safe opening of various formats of retail, while reiterating the need for the uniform reopening of these stores across India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ directive has allowed states to open retail stores as per their own independent guidelines. This has led to multiple interpretations and rules that have inconvenienced customers and retailers, while continuing to severely impact demand and sales.

The problem has been compounded by the change in the definition of stores; large standalone stores are considered malls in Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Assam. Furthermore, states like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have prohibited stores from operating air-conditioners inside stores.

Non-essential retail sales have seen a frightening drop from 50 per cent in March 2020 to 80 percent in May. Essential retail, which has been the lifeline of the nation, was down by 40 per cent in April and may further slide to 30 per cent given its current run rate. Furthermore, owing to the multiplier effect, this prolonged paralysis has not only affected the retail sector but also manufacturing and several allied sectors that depend on retail to function.

There needs to be uniform standard operating procedures for any part of the reopening process—permission to open stores; time restrictions on store operations; movement of staff and delivery vehicles; product pricing restrictions; the number of staff and customers allowed in a store; or odd/even store restrictions.

Emphasizing the need for clarity and uniformity in policy, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, said, “Retailers Association of India welcomes the Unlock 1.0 order by the MHA which allows opening up of malls and all categories of retail. The retail industry employs about 46 million people, and it is important to keep it functioning smoothly, as before. Business is floundering, millions of jobs are at stake and we need a policy framework that allows for the non-discriminatory reopening of retail and time-bound resolution of fiscal and legal matters.”

This should not only make it easier for retailers to do business, but also ensure the convenience and safety of customers. It could, for instance, allow for longer store hours, so that people have a wider window of time for shopping. This could help avoid crowding. The SOPs could also include guidelines for air-conditioning or for maintaining the temperatures within stores at levels that ensure the comfort of the staff and the customers while also maintaining freshness and hygiene of products.

“We have been in touch with various government bodies since the beginning of the lockdown for safe opening up of retail and are happy that the government concurs with our view that malls are a controlled and safe environment to shop. Following a uniform approach to reopening will help states implement the directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs in an orderly manner. More importantly, it will benefit customers and catalyze the rapid reopening of the retail sector,” added the RAI CEO.


mining industry

Miners’ Association urged govt to take industry suggestions on proposed tweaking of MMDR Act

google digital india funding

Google’s announces Rs 75,000 crore fund to help accelerate India’s digital economy

mastercard to help small business in India

Mastercard commits Rs 250 crore to support small businesses in India

RBI repo rate cut

RBI alleviating liquidity stress to offset COVID-19 impact on economy

Schemes for MSMEs

Special scheme to rescue bankrupt MSMEs soon

India China Trade Relationship

Can Atmanirbhar India Inc ward off dependencies on China?

The New Mantra-Future of SMEs post COVID-19

The new mantra: future of SMEs post Covid-19

SBI ecommerce platform

SBI likely to invest $150 Mn in B2B e-commerce platform for MSMEs

Impact of coronavirus on real estate

JLL’s latest Global Real Estate Transparency Index reveals significant improvement in India

The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on jewellery sector

Will festive season bring back the glimmer of gems and jewellery retail in India?

msme coronavirus credit funding world bank

Indian govt & World Bank sign $750 million agreement to support MSMEs affected by Covid-19


Future of work: 6 digital technology trends set to transform the workplace