People’s purchasing power to rescue India

Rising retail loans, spike in sale of movie tickets are signs of recovery
Mumbai: The rescue of India’s economy may come down to the spending power of people like 26-year-old Avni Rambhiya. A financial analyst, she recently received a pay rise, is eating out more often and has stopped bringing home-cooked meals to the office in a tiffin, the traditional Indian lunchbox.
“Our salary increases have been on an average 10 to 12 per cent...,” the 26-year-old said. “I am left with some additional money in my hand even after saving, so I spend it in eating out more frequently, travelling, buying dresses.”
“Now, four days a week, I eat out either by ordering food or go out for dinner with friends. Even six months back I used to carry a tiffin to the office and eat out once in a quarter.” People like Ms Rambhiya offer a glimmer of hope for the Indian economy, which grew at a slower-than-expected annual rate of 7 per cent in the June quarter.
The economic data, released on Monday, showed a weakening services sector, consistent with a pattern of subdued consumption over the past two years, but some leading indicators have already begun to tell a different story. From rising retail loans to a pick-up in movie ticket sales, there are early signs of a recovery in spending in Asia’s third-largest economy.
“The headwinds of 2013 that pushed down consumer spending have turned positive now,” said Siddhartha Sanyal, India economist at Barclays. “Prices of commodities, interest rates, inflation are easing, growth sentiment which affects consumer behaviour is better, and the rupee is also relatively stable,” he said. Consumers have a strong influence on the Indian economy, but their confidence has been undermined by two straight years of sub-5 per cent economic growth — far too slow to generate enough jobs for an ever-expanding workforce.
Economists say consumption is finally picking up, thanks to a plunge in oil prices, record low inflation and interest rate cuts totalling three quarters of a percentage point this year.
Now with India’s festive season starting this month, with the first of a series of religious holidays, economists say the time is ripe for Indians to spend more freely. India has no reliable indicator on retail sales because a lot of transactions are carried out in the black economy and are never reported to authorities.
( Source : reuters )
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