Every crisis brings new opportunities as well. Is the Indian Mattress Industry ready to take it?
The economic impact of the Covid-19 second wave has started taking a toll on many sectors in India. The mattress industry, which depends on institutional sales apart from Retail sales, is likely to see the hardest of times. Sectors such as Hospitality and Real Estate are looking at downward trends – and this is likely to affect mattress sales in India. Lockdowns in various states have contributed to a decrease in retail sales of mattresses.
The hospitality sector, which is interlinked with the tourism sector, faced a massive struggle during the first wave of the pandemic. The situation during the second wave is slowly turning grim as restrictions continue to rise. Similarly, Real estate and construction sector activity has started facing disruption during the second wave, as a large number of migrant workers have left urban areas.
A study by the Journal of Health Management-‘Effect of COVID-19 on Economy in India: Some Reflections for Policy and Programme focuses on assessing the impact on affected sectors. The study points out that the pandemic will affect the manufacturing and the services sector—hospitality, tours and travels, healthcare, retail, banks, hotels, real estate, education, health, IT, recreation, media, and others. “The economic stress has started and will grow rapidly. While lockdowns and social distancing result in productivity loss, on the one hand, they cause a sharp decline in demand for goods and services by the consumers in the market on the other, thus leading to a collapse in economic activity. However, lockdown and social distancing are the only cost-effective tools available to prevent the spread of COVID-19”, says the report.
The tourism industry is the worst affected due to the COVID crisis. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) (2020) estimations depict a fall of 20–30 percent in international tourist arrivals to India. This is bad news for the mattress industry.
The Indian retail industry which accounts for over 10 percent of the country’s GDP and around 8 percent of employment is also likely to contribute to lower sales of mattresses. In the retail sector, the suppressed demand has a tendency to revive very fast and this will enable the sector to recover the losses in a short time once the COVID-19 situation improves and the lockdown is lifted in various parts of India. However online retail is operational and this will help in offsetting some of the losses for the mattress industry.
The International Labour Organization in its report describes the coronavirus pandemic as ‘the worst global crisis since World War II’. About 400 million people (76.2 percent of the total workforce) working in the informal economy in India are at risk of falling deeper into poverty due to the catastrophic consequences of the virus. According to the survey, the majority of this workforce, who are migrants from rural India who come to seek employment, are going back to their villages. This is going to affect the construction sector. Indian Mattress Industry needs to rethink its developmental paradigm. The industry should force the Indian government to provide greater support to SMEs in the Mattress industry and bring in reforms in labour laws. Improvements in labour laws will help manufacturing businesses grow and lead to the creation of jobs.
The study indicates that the risk of a global recession due to COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 would be extremely high, as it has been observed globally that the shutdown of all economic activities—production, consumption and trade—to control the spread of COVID-19 is imminent. “The nature of shutdown is unique in the case of COVID-19 due to a supply shock, a demand shock and a market shock. The recovery in the economy depends on the timing and magnitude of government support as well as the level of corporate debt and how the companies and markets cope with lower demand. However, every crisis brings about a unique opportunity to rethink the path undertaken for the development of a human being, community and society. The COVID-19 pandemic has a clear message for the Indian economy to adopt sustainable developmental models, which are based on self-reliance, inclusive frameworks and are environment friendly.”