Losses incurred by retail trade is around $30 billion- CAIT

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Tuesday said the losses incurred by the retail trade in the last 15 days due to Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to the tune of $30 billion.

The Indian retail sector comprising 70 million small medium and big traders employing 450 million people, does a monthly business of around $70 billion, estimates CAIT. The body said the retail sector is the worst hit.

“Truth, as we are seeing it today, is way more frightening than fiction,” said CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal.

“The human cost of the coronavirus is going to be unimaginably high but what is worse is that it’s going to end up having an unprecedented economic cost,” he said.

CAIT president B.C.Bhartia said that even if global economies and other sectors of the Indian economy bounce back sooner than expected, traders are likely to pay a higher price and the strenuous ramifications will reverberate for a much longer time than expected.

“A large percentage of the Indian traders are too small to have enough of a cushion to last through a pandemic like this one. Most important reason for this devastating situation is the fact that a majority of the Indian traders have had to down shutters or curtail operations for health reasons, while still paying employees salaries and that’s apart from meeting costs for rentals, taxes and other levies. The demand from Indian consumers after the lockdown might also be subdued because the maximum section of the Indian consuming class will be cash strapped and hard pressed for disposable income,” said Bhartia.

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Khandelwal said that another significant reason is that the import cycle has been hit drastically due to which Indian traders may not have enough goods to sell even after the lockdown is lifted.

“Finished goods imports from China, US, Europe which are under severe effects of Covid-19 will take more time to normalise and therefore the import cycle and supply chain might take much longer to get back on track. Even Indian industries which are dependent on imported raw material components will take a longer time to kickstart their operations due to shortage of raw materials. If the production by Indian industries is not upto the mark, retailers will end up facing acute shortage of finished products,” Khandelwal said.

CAIT said retailers in urban centres will face an acute shortage of labour which have migrated to their towns and villages fearing safety of their life due to the severity of the health hazards in cities which are hardly hit due to Covid-19.

The association has appealed to the government for concrete action like tax concessions, smooth and easy access to credit, GST write-offs, relaxation and reimbursements for wages, waiver of interest costs, among other demands.


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