The lockdowns which were imposed by various State Governments all across the country are now being lifted in phases. The lockdowns, be it the national one which was imposed the last year or the local ones during the second wave, both have affected our economy and the businesses in a profound manner. But as things start to ease once again, a new ray of hope is to be seen.
The impact of lifting lockdowns on businesses is of utmost importance. For a year and a half, the Indian economy, just like all others across the world, has suffered immensely. With lockdowns in place, the markets shut, shops closed down, downsizing in companies, a huge blow has been felt on the economy. But with the unlocking procedure which has begun, the markets and businesses have once again gained the opportunity to revive. A recent study conducted by the Retailers’ Association of India suggests durable retailers will most likely be the first ones to recover from the adverse impact of the localized lockdowns implemented this year as the need for upgrades and replacements push people to buy products.
But an equally important and serious aspect is consumer sentiment. After the horrors of the second wave, people are not keen to step out, let alone for shopping in the markets. But sales of appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, televisions, washing machines, and microwaves will see a surge as people are still working from home with limited household help. Gadgets like phones and laptops, which are the need of the hour in such a scenario, are witnessing a hike in demand as well. Also, amidst the initial phases of unlocks, people who are desperately in need of stuff are stepping out due to the fear of COVID-19 and a lack of availability of public transport.
It can be said with surety that things, as far as businesses and the success of markets are concerned, will make a staggering move upwards. This is similar to what had happened during the phase-wise unlock procedures which had taken place after the national lockdown in the wake of the first pandemic wave in India. That time too, right after Unlock 1.0, businessmen and retailers had seen low numbers of people turning up for shopping. On top of that, trends of shoppers returning to the markets were different across various States. For instance, while Pacific Mall in New Delhi had seen a surge in sales of Apple and Zara products, Centre Square Mall in Kochi had seen a rise in numbers of customers keen to buy groceries and apparel. And Kolkata-based Ambuja Neotia Group’s Malls saw an increase in the number of people buying computers, phones, and accessories from Adidas and Reebok.
Nevertheless, after the limping growth in the operation of markets and malls after Unlock 1.0 in 2020, optimism levels had returned to the normal high by the time Unlock 5.0 came in place. Signs of recovery could easily be seen by that point of time. A revival in consumer sentiment and business was reported. Hence, things will take time this time too. But it should be our top priority to stick to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. If we digress from that path, businesses will once again get into the doldrums. After the complete unlock in 2020, businesses got little time span to make up for their losses. This time, nothing like that should happen.
But these challenges have taught businesses to adapt, and they have altered their long-term plans from going to the unlock periods after the lockdowns. Businesses have now started to think long term and have cut down on operational costs such as marketing expenses and have switched to low-cost raw material sources. The economic difficulties of these times have also created a renewed focus on the aim of creating an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, which can lead to the strengthening and high-scale prevalence of domestic supply systems. With the beginning of another revival of businesses and the economy, it is also important for the government to instill trust in the business community and improve the ease of doing business. A person’s reducing faith in businesses and self-employment has to be dealt with smartly.
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