As COVID-19 cases surge across India and a second wave is being witnessed, the retail industry is beginning to see problems it faced last year during lockdowns and localised restrictions, says the Retailers Association of India (RAI), which has called for a coordinated effort to handle the second wave rather than creating diverse restrictions at local levels.
“RAI has been highlighting the fact that formal retail spaces, especially shopping centres are controlled spaces and have SOPs [standard operating procedures] in place. They have got the ability to adhere to hygiene standards and can definitely ensure social distancing, as compared to local markets. The government could also consider these places to be used to vaccinate citizens and speed up the inoculation drive,” said RAI chief executive officer Kumar Rajagopalan said.
“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 extemporized restrictions are creating setbacks for retailers as the already stressed retail businesses are getting further interrupted and in turn dampening consumer sentiment,” he added in a press release.
Removing roadblocks at the local level will not only help retailers to plan ahead, but will also help them make decisions on hiring, RAI said. It will also help the exchequer in the form of taxes collected by the state governments. Most importantly, it will be in the interest of consumers as it will bring convenience to them.
Many states, and sometimes municipalities, continue to take ad-hoc decisions at a local level, which has a distressing impact on the already strained retail businesses, RAI added.