India’s strong consumption story relies on its demographic structure, which, at this
point in time, is highly favourable compared to most other emerging nations. As per
the UN population statistics, this favourable demographic dividend will last for another
25–30 years. Before that, most other emerging nations would have already begun to
witness a slowdown in the growth of young (working-age) population.
The ensuing benefits with regard to the rising income and household spending would
provide a significant boost to the consumption-driven growth story of India. A glimpse
of the changing pattern of India’s consumption is already visible in the breakdown
of private final consumption spending data provided by the government. There is
a marked increase in spending on lifestyle products and services such as hotels,
mobiles, transportation and other miscellaneous goods. As against that, spending on
essentials has only remained stable.
International retailers are well aware of these benefits that the Indian economy offers.
Barring few legislative challenges that could be tackled through the policy reforms and
opening up of the retail sector, retailers have often expressed their intention to enter
and invest in India’s attractive retail sector. This is very well reflected in AT Kearney’s
Global Retail Development Index 2012, where India ranks as the fifth most attractive
retail market for international retailers. The retail sector is a significant contributor to India’s economic activity. Though a
direct measurement of the retail sector is difficult to derive through government
statistics, the trade, hotels and restaurant sectors come close to giving us an
estimate of its contribution. That component, in which retail (both organised and
unorganised) is the dominant activity, accounts for around 18% of India’s GDP.
Within the services sector of India, this component is the largest contributor
to the economy. Many institutions, however, may not agree with this possibly
understated measurement of the retail sector, as it may not accurately account
for the unorganised sector. For instance, as per the estimates of the Associated
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) presented in one of its retail
reports of 2012, the contribution of both organised and unorganised retail stood
at 22% of GDP. This would mean that Indian retail sector size should measure
closer to INR 19.2 trillion in 2012. Leading research institutions such as AT
Kearney and ASSOCHAM estimate this sector to grow at around 15% y-o-y over
the next three–five years as against a 12%–13% nominal growth of India’s GDP
estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Going by that logic, the retail
sector should reach a size of INR 34 trillion by 2016. This is a significant growth.
The sector is also an important contributor towards the socioeconomic well-being
of the economy as it employs close to 9.4% of India’s labour force, as per the