Retail sector impact in third wave: Food, clothing less affected due to online sales

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Sri Lanka Retailers’ Association (SLRA) informed that some industries have managed to survive during the current wave and to increase sales, although overall retail sales have decreased significantly due to disruptions influenced by the recently imposed travel restrictions. 

SLRA, President and Group Director of Hameedia, Hussain Sadique stated that the food industry retailers are less affected in comparison to the non-food industry retailers. 

“If we look at the food industry such as Keells and Cargills, they’re impacted significantly less. This is because the demand and the consumption for food has not decreased. However, it is a different story when it comes to the other industries,” Sadique stated. 

As per the retailers in the clothing industry, Sadique further informed that the retailers are less impacted from the challenges from the travel restrictions in comparison to the challenges that rose from the initial lockdown in 2020. 

Accordingly, clothing retailers had experienced a high growth of online sales. Sadique explained that the increased online sales were influenced by the sales teams of businesses communicating well to their loyalty customers. 

“We asked our sales teams to check up on our loyalty customers, ask them how they are keeping. Some consumers called us and we called some, thus, we were able to increase sales through this,” Sadique noted. 

He also informed that marketing through social media has also been utilised in order to increase these online sales while highlighting that the retailers were allowed to create a new line revenue of selling over-the-phone. 

“This time the telephone scheme is changing, there were a lot of sales as the consumers had more time to communicate through the telephone and WhatsApp. If you’re a small retailer you would go for WhatsApp and phones, as these are the most effective,” Sadique explained. 

The SLRA further stated that there are no major disadvantages as it’s just another course of action that the retailers have to take due to the current situation. 

As per the supply and demand, Sadique stated that there had not been a major shortage due to the low consumption and the less demand. He further clarified that there are enough stocks in many industries to cater to the demand. 

“Non-food consumption was generally less. The clothing retailers mostly sold suits because people were travelling and casual wear was also high as consumers were mostly at home and they were looking at smart casual types of clothing as well,” Sadique added. 

In terms of textiles, the casual trend has evolved into work lifestyles as smart casual is starting to look way more familiar in workplaces, Sadique explained. 

In terms of electronics, there has been a high demand for electronics such as laptops as students and workers have adapted to a work or study from home lifestyle. 

SLRA further stated that there can’t be any predictions as all the industries are experiencing the “worst case scenario” in reference to the prevailing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We have to wait and see if there is a fourth wave. Everybody in the business will take a cautious approach, so what we have, we will sell as we go,” Sadique noted. 

He further provided an outlook to avoid a fourth lockdown or new wave and bring the “new normal” into action as he stated that it is going to be a very sober six months. 

In addition, Sadique stated that some prices have gone up due to a genuine demand in the market such as the electronic and the food industry while revealing that there is also an artificial demand in some markets as well.

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