The recent years have witnessed rapid transformation and vigorous profits in Indian retail stores across various categories. This can be contemplated as a result of the changing attitude of Indian consumers and their overwhelming acceptance to modern retail formats. Asian markets witness a shift in trend from traditional retailing to organized retailing driven by the liberalizations on Foreign Direct Investments. For example, in China there was a drastic structural development after FDI was permitted in retailing. India has entered a stage of positive economic development which requires liberalization of the retail market to gain a significant enhancement.

Domestic consumption market in India is estimated to grow approximately 7 to 8% with retail accounting for 60% of the overall segment. Of this 60%, organized retail is just 5% which is comparatively lesser than other countries with emerging economies. In developed countries organized retailing is the established way of selling consumer products. Despite the low percentage, Indian textile industry has grown noticeably in organized retailing of textile products. The negative phase in exports may have compelled the Indian textile retailers to explore the opportunities in the domestic market substantially causing the outstanding growth in the concerned segment. These indications give a positive notion that organized retailing has arrived in the Indian market and is here to stay. It is expected to grow 25-30 per cent annually and would triple in size from Rs35,000 crore in 2004-05 to Rs109,000 crore ($24 billion) by 2010.

India is on the radar screen in the retail world and global retailers and at their wings seeking entry into the Indian retail market. The market is growing at a steady rate of 11-12 percent and accounts for around 10 percent of the countrys GDP. The inherent attractiveness of this segment lures retail giants and investments are likely to sky rocket with an estimate of Rs 20-25 billion in the next 2-3 years, and over Rs 200 billion by end of 2010. Indian retail market is considered to be the second largest in the world in terms of growth potential.

A vast majority of India's young population favors branded garments. With the influence of visual media, urban consumer trends have spread across the rural areas also. The shopping spree of the young Indians for clothing, favorable income demographics, increasing population of young people joining the workforce with considerably higher disposable income, has unleashed new possibilities for retail growth even in the rural areas. Thus, 85% of the retail boom which was focused only in the metros has started to infiltrate towards smaller cities and towns. Tier-II cities are already receiving focused attention of retailers and the other smaller towns and even villages are likely to join in the coming years. This is a positive trend, and the contribution of these tier-II cities to total organized retailing sales is expected to grow to 20-25%.

Challenges facing the Organized Retail Industry:

Despite the rosy hopes, some facts have to be considered to positively initiate the retail momentum and ensure its sustained growth. The major constraint of the organized retail market in India is the competition from the un-organized sector. Traditional retailing has been deep rooted in India for the past few centuries and enjoys the benefits of low cost structure, mostly owner-operated, therein resulting in less labor costs and little or no taxes to pay. Consumer familiarity with the traditional formats for generations is the greatest advantage to the un-organized sector. On the contrary, organized sector have big expenses like higher labor costs, social security to employees, bigger premises, and taxes to meet.

Availability and cost of retail space is one major area where Government intervention is necessary. Liberalizing policy guidelines for FDI needs focus as well. Proper training facilities for meeting the increasing requirements of workers in the sector would need the attention of both Government and the industry. Competition for experienced personnel would lead to belligerence between retailers and higher rates of attrition, especially during the phase of accelerated growth of the retail industry. The process of avoiding middlemen and providing increased income to farmers through direct procurement by retail chains need the attention of policy makers. Taking care of supply chain management, mass procurement arrangements and inventory management are areas that need the focus of entrepreneurs.

India is now on the radar of global retailers. Accelerated development of retailing industry in the country and building brand value of domestic products is essential not only for marketing our consumer products more efficiently, but also for the development of our own retailing industry.

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