The word retail is derived from the French word retailer meaning to cut a piece off or to break bulk In simple terms, it implies a first-hand transaction with the customer.

Retailing can be defined as the buying and selling of goods and services. It can also be defined as the timely delivery of goods and services demanded by consumers at prices that are competitive and affordable.

Retailing involves a direct interface with the customer and the coordination of business activities from end to end- right from the concept or design stage of a product or offering, to its delivery and post-delivery service to the customer. The industry has contributed to the economic growth of many countries and is undoubtedly one of the fastest changing and dynamic industries in the world today.

Retail industry contributes between 14–15% to 20% of India’s GDP. The Indian retail market is estimated to be US$450 billion and one of the top five retail markets in the world by economic value. India is one of the fastest-growing retail market in the world, and is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2020.

India’s retailing industry mostly consists of the local mom and pop store, owner manned shops and street vendors. The lack of infrastructure and efficient retail network, according to The Wall Street Journal, causes a third of India’s agriculture produce to be lost from spoilage.

Role of Retail Market in Indian Economy

Retailing in India is one of the pillars of its economy and accounts for 14 to 15 percent of its GDP. The Indian retail market is estimated to be US$ 500 billion and one of the top five retail markets in the world by economic value. India is one of the fastest growing retail markets in the world, with 1.2 billion people.

As of 2013, India’s retailing industry was essentially owner manned small shops. In 2010, larger format convenience stores and supermarkets accounted for about 4 percent of the industry, and these were present only in large urban centers. India’s retail and logistics industry employs about 40 million Indians (3.3% of Indian population).

In November 2011, India’s central government announced retail reforms for both multi-brand stores and single-brand stores. These market reforms paved the way for retail innovation and competition with multi-brand retailers such as Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco, as well single brand majors such as IKEA, Nike, and Apple. The announcement sparked intense activism, both in opposition and in support of the reforms. In December 2011, under pressure from the opposition, Indian government placed the retail reforms on hold till it reaches a consensus.

In January 2012, India approved reforms for single-brand stores welcoming anyone in the world to innovate in Indian retail market with 100% ownership, but imposed the requirement that the single brand retailer source 30 percent of its goods from India. Indian government continues the hold on retail reforms for multi-brand stores. In June 2012, IKEA announced it had applied for permission to invest $1.9 billion in India and set up 25 retail stores. An analyst from Fitch Group stated that the 30 percent requirement was likely to significantly delay if not prevent most single brand majors from Europe, USA and Japan from opening stores and creating associated jobs in India.

Retailing, one of the largest sectors in the global economy, is going through a transition phase not only in India but the world over. For a long time, the corner grocery store was the only choice available to the consumer, especially in the urban areas. This is slowly giving way to international formats of retailing. The traditional food and grocery segment has seen the emergence of supermarkets/grocery chains (Food World, Nilgiris, Apna Bazaar), convenience stores (Convenio, HP Speedmart) and fast-food chains.