Virus to cull 80,000 retail jobs: RAI survey

Over 95% of non-food retailers have shut shop since lockdown took effect

About 80,000 jobs are expected to be cut by retailers due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by industry body RAI.

Retailers Association of India (RAI) had conducted a survey of 768 retailers, which employ 3,92,963 people across India, to gauge their view on the impact of COVID-19 on their business and manpower.

“Small retailers are expecting to lay off 30% of their manpower going forward, this number falls to 12% for medium (sized) retailers and 5% for large retailers. On the whole, retailers who were surveyed expect lay-offs of about 20% of their manpower,” RAI said.

The expectation of retrenchment of 20% amounts to 78,592 people.

According to the industry body, small retailers featured in the survey employ less than 100 persons and accounted for 65% of the respondents. Medium retailers have 100—1,000 employees making up for 24% of respondents, while large retailers employ over 1,000 people and accounted for 11% of the respondents.

Ever since the lockdown was imposed on March 25, more than 95% of non-food retailers have closed their outlets and are looking at practically no revenues during the period and expect to earn only about 40% of last year’s revenue in the next six months, the survey said.

As for food retailers, in the next six months they expect to earn 56% as compared to last year’s revenues. With most of food retailers also selling non-essential goods in the same or different stores, the non-food business in the stores has come to a standstill during the lockdown, leading to revenue loss, it added.

On the business outlook, 70% of the retailers expect business recovery to happen in more than six months, while 20% expect it to take more than a year.

On expectations from the government, RAI said two out of three retailers employing substantial workforce want employee salary and rent support to manage their fixed costs and limit manpower downsizing.

RAI further said two out of five retailers want concessions and relief on GST, taxes and loans.

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