-Mr Prateek Mittal, ED, Sushma Group

India is home to the world’s largest young population. This means the potential of high-demand generation, especially in the retail sector. The Indian retail sector is already one of the largest in the world, estimated at almost US$ 900 billion in 2020, and is expected to grow to US$ 1.7 trillion by 2026. A report by CII states that with proper support from the government, the retail sector can create 3 million additional jobs by the year 2024.

The Kearney India Retail Index ranked more than 800 cities on their retail market potential. The contribution of metros and tier-1 cities toward the growth of India’s retail industry has been shrinking, the report highlighted. This is especially evident in the share of luxury retail spending, which grew from 9 percent in 2013 to 55 percent in 2018 in non-metro cities, especially Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Udaipur” the report stated. Tier II & III Cities are expected to drive the next wave of retail growth and have received five times more investments in retail infrastructure compared with metros and tier-1 cities in the last decade.Tier II & III cities have witnessed faster evolution in growth in disposable income, mobile Internet, and support infrastructure. In addition, the impact of Covid-19 on retail activity has been less severe in small towns and cities.

One of the fastest growing retail cities in the state of Punjab- Zirakpur’s recent rise has coincided with its establishment as a Chandigarh satellite city. Located on the route that connects Chandigarh to Delhi and other regions of Punjab, Zirakpur consequently benefits from the trade and interactions that occur along this economic corridor. Zirakpur’s population has risen at high speeds and it is one of the most dense cities of Northern India, while Chandigarh’s population has expanded at a considerably slower rate. This population density has boosted the demand of residential and commercial properties. PR7 Airport Road, alone to have more than 20 housing and multiple commercial projects.

Due to the scarcity of land on the open market, dynamic, subaltern settlement patterns have emerged on the outskirts of Chandigarh, where economic, social, and transit processes can work more freely. An outstanding example of a Chandigarh peripheral growing space is Zirakpur. The city began its course of urbanization as large swaths of rural land were utilized for commercial purposes, and a new metropolis grew. With the addition of private developers, the city became a valuable centre for private money.

The town has become a focal point for a number of high-profile residential and commercial developments. Zirakpur has one of the most developing economie right now. The city’s steady growth has progressively drawn a large number of individuals to dwell in the area. In Zirakpur, Starbucks has opened its first and only drive through outlet in India. Popular brands like Arrow, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, PE, Nike, Adidas have opened multiple stores in and around Zirakpur in recent years, highlighting the town’s importance, particularly among shoppers. Apart from that, numerous popular cafés and eateries like Mcdonalds, KFC, Burger King and many more have opened in the town, providing residents with diverse options.

The growing popularity is collaborated by the presence of retail giants such as Walmart, Max Wholesale, Best Price to name a few. The retail chain D’Mart, has opened 3 outlets in Zirakpur. The presence of these giants attest to the fact that tier-II cities and small towns are offering Indian retail the biggest opportunity for retailers. Since logistics costs are lesser in cities near Chandigarh, especially Zirakpur, these businesses can turn profitable much faster in this city.

The availability of affordable housing and commercial premises close to the restrictive and pricey Chandigarh prompted the creation of a script for urbanization in Zirakpur. Recently, the city has begun to develop its personality, which is encouraging to new enterprises and institutions for setting up shop in Zirakpur. This includes a sense of lower rental costs than Chandigarh and an excellent connection to the rest of India. The town is extremely well connected, whether to neighboring cities or important transit hubs; it includes a significant chunk of the Chandigarh International Airport Hub. Connectivity gives the town a competitive advantage in terms of being the preferred investment center.