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Indian retail sector loses Rs 16L cr in 100 days: CAIT

New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a loss of at least Rs 16 lakh crore to the Indian retail sector, according to data released by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Sunday. The traders' body said the extent of the devastating impact on businesses was such that even after 45 days of Unlock-1, traders across the country are concerned about minimal footfall and the absence of workers. The CAIT added that lack of support from the Central or State Governments has made matters worse for businesses.

National President, BC Bhartia, and Secretary-General, Praveen Khandelwal, of CAIT said that domestic trade in the country is passing through its worst period and if immediate steps are not taken, about 20 per cent of the shops in the country would have to shut down. As per inputs available from traders across the country, customer footfall is only at 10 per cent post the unlock period.

Both the CAIT officials said that as per an estimate there has been a business loss of about Rs 5 lakh crore in April whereas in May it was approximately Rs 4.5 lakh crore; post lockdown in June, it was about Rs 4 lakh crore; and in the first 15 days of July, the business loss stood at Rs 2.5 lakh crore.

"The local consumers are not visiting markets as they were before the lockdown while the purchasers who were procuring goods from neighbouring states or cities are not visiting due to the current pandemic and lack of smooth inter-city or inter-state transportation," they said.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said traders are upset that they have not been given any stimulus package either by the Central or State Governments.

"A financial mechanism needs to be crafted to award business loans to traders. Relaxation in payment of taxes and extension in repayment of bank loans, EMIs without any further interest or penalty is also required to provide financial liquidity in order to revive business activities," they said in a statement.

"The worst part is that the goods supplied from December to March, the payment of which would have been released long before, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown and in the present circumstances, the said credit payment is expected likely to begin in September, which has put traders in a vulnerable position. In a situation when input is low and the output is high, the rule of economics describes such a situation as unhealthy business eating capital," they added.

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