Emerging sectors in Retail

Retailing, one of the largest sectors in the global economy, is going through a transition phase not only in India but the world over. For a long time, the corner grocery store was the only choice available to the consumer, especially in the urban areas. This is slowly giving way to international formats of retailing. The traditional food and grocery segment has seen the emergence of supermarkets/grocery chains (Food World, Nilgiris, Apna Bazaar), convenience stores (ConveniO, HP Speedmart) and fast-food chains (McDonalds, Dominos).

It is the non-food segment, however that foray has been made into a variety of new sectors. These include lifestyle/fashion segments (Shoppers' Stop, Globus, LifeStyle, Westside), apparel/accessories (Pantaloon, Levis, Reebok), books/music/gifts (Archies, MusicWorld, Crosswords, Landmark), appliances and consumer durables (Viveks, Jainsons, Vasant & Co.), drugs and pharmacy (Health and Glow, Apollo).

The emergence of new sectors has been accompanied by changes in existing formats as well as the beginning of new formats:

Large supermarkets, typically 3,500-5,000 sq. ft.
Mini supermarkets, typically 1,000-2,000 sq. ft.
Convenience stores, typically 750-1,000sq. ft.
Discount/shopping list grocer
The traditional grocers, by introducing self-service formats as well as value-added services such as credit and home delivery, have tried to redefine themselves. However, the boom in retailing has been confined primarily to the urban markets in the country. Even there, large chunks are yet to feel the impact of organised retailing. There are two primary reasons for this. First, the modern retailer is yet to feel the saturation' effect in the urban market and has, therefore, probably not looked at the other markets as seriously. Second, the modern retailing trend, despite its cost-effectiveness, has come to be identified with lifestyles.

In order to appeal to all classes of the society, retail stores would have to identify with different lifestyles. In a sense, this trend is already visible with the emergence of stores with an essentially `value for money' image. The attractiveness of the other stores actually appeals to the existing affluent class as well as those who aspire for to be part of this class. Hence, one can assume that the retailing revolution is emerging along the lines of the economic evolution of society.

- Contributed by Nithin Narayanan