The COVID-19 pandemic has had a multifaceted effect. Apart from India’s healthcare sector that feels burdened and shaken under the weight of increasing coronavirus cases in almost every state, the country’s retail sector has also been affected. The impact has been pervasive as more than 15 million retailers operate in this sector. The effect on the retail segment is evident from the country’s GDP that has tanked down considerably as the former contributed roughly 10 percent to the latter.
The mandatory nation-wide lockdown meant that stores barring those selling essential goods and groceries must remain closed. It is a matter of concern to the country’s economy as stores selling in non-grocery items like garments, furniture, electronic goods booked reduction in sales to the tune of 80-100 percent. Those selling essential items faced difficulties as many states and districts allowed the opening of the shops and stores for a limited period.
What Changed due to Lockdown?
The fact that Indians had been under strict lockdown since March 23, 2020, has had a considerable effect on their buying behavior that is reflected in a shift in business sales and profits.
– Consumer Behavior: Closed shops and restricted movement prompted people to shift online to make their purchases. Realizing the spike in orders and requests, E-commerce businesses re-aligned their businesses to their consumers’ needs to ensure shopping convenience. Besides, loss of jobs or forced pay cuts by employer companies forced millennials to buy only the essentials and in lesser quantities.
– Changed Business Outlook: Business houses now prefer a conservative approach than the earlier optimistic outlook. Survival rather than profits are of primary concern. Business processes will change as more focus would be on efficiency. With so many people succumbing to the effects of the corona virus while many others still fighting for their lives in hospitals and healthcare centers, companies will now empathize more with employees. The concept of ‘Work from Home’ will gain further traction as the fear of the virus will prompt companies to allow their employees to work from within the walls of their houses.
The retail businesses involving entertainment, travel, and hospitality will continue to suffer for a few more months as people would exercise caution before spending on these segments. The retail sector would be hit hard as many offices might prefer co-working spaces than occupying large swanky buildings to restrict cash outflow.