COVID-19 has hit retail business with a loss of Rs 9 lakh in 60 days and about 40 percent of the six million employees working in India's modern, rather than traditional, retail sector could likely lose their jobs in the next four months if the government does not intervene.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that the country's retail trade lost business worth Rs 9 lakh crore in the last 60 days, mainly due to the nationwide lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic, reported PTI.
CAIT said domestic trade is facing its worst period as shops and commercial markets across the country since last Monday could register only about 5 percent of business, and only 8 percent of workforce could resume their duties in shops after migration of about 80 percent employees to their native places.
CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said during the span of 60 days of national lockdown, the domestic trade has lost a business to the tune of about Rs 9 lakh crore, causing a revenue loss of about Rs 1.5 lakh crore to both the central and state governments on account of GST.
The traders are facing acute financial crunch, and in absence of any policy support from the government, they are worried about future of their business, he said.
The country was facing an economic slowdown even before the coronavirus outbreak with almost all the sectors were facing slump in demand.
Last week, CAIT urged the government to reconsider the economic package and announce measures to support traders, saying the community felt let down for exclusion from the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus to aid the economy reeling from the COVID-19 crisis.
However, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which has 40,000 trade associations and seven crore members across India, said the trading community will continue to fulfil its obligations towards the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.
The traders' body "resented with deep regret" that one of the largest and most committed segments of the trading community has not found a place in the wide-reaching announcements of the economic package, according to a statement.
On 12 May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Rs 20 lakh crore package to revive the economy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdowns that brought the entire economic activities to a standstill.
Modi's 'Atma-nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' or Self-reliant India Mission is about 10 percent of India's GDP in 2019-20 and would rank behind Japan, the US, Sweden, Australia and Germany.
Early this month, CAIT had said that traders were facing tremendous financial crunch and payment of full salary for April to their staff was next to impossible.
The traders' body wrote to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal seeking his intervention in the matter.
In March this year, CAIT) had expressed its resentment over the business behaviour of e-commerce companies and urged Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan to permit them to deal only in essential commodities.
Extending support to lockdowns imposed by various state governments to combat community spread of coronavirus in the country, the trades' body pointed out that the e-commerce firms are undertaking business activities freely at a time when offline markets remain closed in many states due to shutdown.
In March this year, industry body Retailers Association of India (RAI) had said that the coronavirus pandemic amid an economic slowdown hit revenue at Indian retailers selling non-essential items like clothes and jewelry by 75 percent so far and is likely to cause widespread job losses, reported Reuters.
About 40 percent of the six million employees working in India's modern, rather than traditional, retail sector could likely lose their jobs in the next four months if the government does not intervene, Kumar Rajgopalan, chief executive, RAI, said.
"Unless the government provides some relief, revenues will slide by 90 percent in the next six months," Rajgopalan said, suggesting moratoriums on the payment of loans, and on the payments of the goods and services tax (GST) and other government duties.
--With agency inputs