With the ongoing lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, retail industry is still witnessing uncertain and challenging times. But now that the government has revised guidelines in place, let us have a look at the operations of retail outlets in different areas/zones.
In red zones, more poignant restrictions have been enforced after May 3. Meanwhile, there will be partial easing in orange zones and liberal easing in green zones. Retailers and traders expect to re-open more shops under the new relaxed guidelines by the government for the extended lockdown period till May 17 and are awaiting guidelines from the respective states for reopening stores.
The country’s biggest retailer- Reliance Retail is activating order and pick-up from storefront so that the consumers and store staff are not exposed. All petrol retail outlets are open to consumers and many retail stores are moving towards e-commerce.
Future Group has now expanded the service to 250 of its Big Bazaar stores across the country. The standalone stores of Big Bazaars are already operating. Around 80 per cent stores of Big Bazaar are operational with several regulations in place such as timing, number of visitors in the store and retailing activities limited only to essential items.
Other supermarkets like Star Bazaar, Spar Hypermarkets are also operating in specific zones under the guidelines of the authorities. Some of these supermarkets are also providing their customers the facility of pre-booking appointments for store visits.
Half of the DMart stores are closed and they are moving towards e-commerce to home deliver essentials. Fashion apparel V-Mart Retail has put on hold its expansion plan for at least the next three months and only 3 stores are operational throughout the country.
In red zone all malls, market complexes and markets will remain closed in urban areas. All shops in residential areas – except those in the malls – have been allowed to reopen with conditions by the government. However, shops selling essential goods in markets and market complexes are allowed. Malls, cinemas, gymnasiums, sports complexes, swimming pools, bars and auditoriums continue to remain shut. In green zones there are no such restrictions for marketplaces, neighbourhood and standalone shops. The Centre is considering the option of opening malls, cinema halls and local retail stores in green zones at night during the nationwide lockdown.
The pandemic puts retailers in a tough spot. In spite of slow down in the in-store traffic, retailers are finding various ways to serve most consumers.Many of the non-essential stores are closed to protect employee and consumer safety. Several retailers with closed stores have indicated they will reopen locations based on guidance from government and health officials.