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Operations begin in automotive retail chain

After suffering an estimated turnover loss of more than Rs 55,000 crore during the 40-day lockdown, automotive retail chain in the country has started crawling back to work. Around 20% of the nation’s auto retail network, or roughly 3,500 outlets, opened for business this week, with one-third staff (50,000-60,000 employees) to comply with social-distancing norms.

These outlets are keeping intact the government diktat of maintaining social distancing and sanitised environment. For example, Maruti Suzuki restarted operations at 680 dealerships in states like Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa, till Wednesday, covering almost 35% of the addressable market. Its executive director (marketing and sales) Shashank Srivastava said “There are some walkins and enquiries, which is a positive sign, given sales had dried up completely during the lockdown. These (who took deliveries) are mostly consumers who had booked prior to the lockdown.”

The showrooms, however, had a low footfall due to a combination of reasons: curbs on people movement in many places, weak consumer sentiment amid the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on jobs, salaries and businesses. However, the industry is hopeful that the consumers will want to move away from public to personal transport given concerns over health and safety, and that it would create demand in the future.