The origin of retail business in India can be traced back to the emergence of Kirana (Mom-and-Pop) stores in the nineteenth century, although India has been a leading nation in international trade since the fourth century B.C. Today, retailing in India has a huge impact on its economy, accounting for over 10% of GDP and around 8% of all employment and is one of the top five retail markets in the world by economic value. The Indian retail sector is likely to grow at a CAGR of 23% to reach US$1 trillion by 2020–1. Modern retailing is expected to grow three times from its present share of 11% at US$66 billion to 21% of the overall retail market reaching US$210 billion by 2020– 1 with traditional retailing also growing at 10% per annum. India is also expected to become the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market by 2020–1.

This chapter aims to describe past, present and future growth of retailing in India into a longer historical context, beginning with the early history of Indian retailing, then charting the complex and constantly changing Indian consumers with huge geographical as well cultural differences and its influence on retailing, retail channel structure, emergence of modern retailing in India and its impact on traditional retailing. It then discusses PESTEL and other key factors shaping current and future developments of traditional, modern and e-retailers in India. It concludes by stating that retailing in India is exciting, with huge potential, but also with lots of challenges. In the foreseeable future, the traditional, modern as well as e-tailors will co-exist, with the Indian consumer switching between them as and when and where required to extract greater value.