India’s retail sales drop 5.7% as consumers skip expensive beauty products
India’s wholesale market, which is largely driven by cosmetics, rose by 3.7 percent in March, according to data from India’s government-run commerce department.
That was the lowest level since the start of the year.
India’s gross domestic product fell by 4.6 percent in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period in 2016, according the Commerce Ministry.
It’s not the first time this year that the wholesale market has been weak.
Sales at beauty shops have dropped in recent months, while the industry has struggled to attract new consumers.
In January, retail sales at wholesale markets fell by 9.5 percent, compared to the same month a year earlier, according in a Reuters survey of retail stores.
That’s the second-lowest annual decline in the past five years, after an 8.4 percent decline in March.
Wholesale stores, the sector with the biggest impact on the economy, have been under pressure in recent years as companies have scaled back their sales, which have seen prices rise, or have made the goods less attractive.
“It’s an important sector,” said Sudhir Kumar, an economist at the Centre for Development Research, a research firm in New Delhi.
“We should be doing more to encourage the growth of this sector.”
Wholesales also face a shortage of raw materials, with imports in March down more than 60 percent compared with March 2016.
In recent years, India has been one of the world’s biggest importers of cosmetics.
A major reason for the decline in wholesale is the slowdown in the Indian economy, which has seen consumer spending shrink and the value of the rupee decline against the dollar.
The economy contracted for three straight months in March and is now expected to shrink by about 1 percent this year.
Analysts have said the slump in manufacturing could hurt the economy in the short term, as companies that rely on the domestic market for raw materials may have to lay off staff or delay planned purchases.
That could lead to lower prices and a drop in consumer spending.
The rupee’s depreciation has been a boon for the Indian government, which had earlier said it would not spend more on import subsidies as it did during the global financial crisis.