India operations of top fashion and lifestyle retailers Levi Strauss and Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) are the most affected globally by the pandemic. India saw the world’s second-largest Covid-19 outbreak, necessitating back-to-back lockdowns and shutdowns, which hit trade. Fashion was among the worst-hit segments. Retailers continue to grapple with low footfalls in high-street stores and malls despite easing of curbs.
For denim major Levi Strauss, which posted a sequential sales improvement globally in the fourth quarter and in the fiscal ended November 29, 2020, the impact of Covid-19 to shopper traffic remained severe, despite many stores being open during the fourth quarter.
Swedish retailer H&M reported a decline of 22 per cent in India net sales in the full year compared with a 20 per cent decline in the company’s net sales globally. The company opened two new stores during the pandemic and launched own digital loyalty program and an exclusive global designer collaboration with Simone Rocha.
In September, global retailer Gap and Arvind Lifestyle Brands terminated their franchise business in India, citing pandemic as the reason. Even though Covid-19 cases in India are on the decline and most brick-and-mortar outlets are operational, pandemic-induced economic slowdown still weighs on the sales of many discretionary items.