Fashion brands have many reasons to celebrate this festive season as consumers are purchasing apparel, footwear and accessories in larger numbers than expected, ahead of a long line of festivals starting with Dasara and ending with the wedding season. Retailers have seen sales and bill sizes climb between 15 per cent and 20 per cent on their festive collection so far this season.
Marketers have worked hard to pack a punch to keep festive purchases intact amid a general slowdown. From maximising in-store discounts and benefits on loyalty programs to providing value-based freebies such as meals, movie tickets or beauty treatments, marketers have been doing their best to woo their consumers, and initial reports show consumers are clearly lapping up the attention.
“The shopping trend has started this week and not only are more people coming into our stores but they’re also buying more. The average bill size is about 15 per cent higher this time,” says a spokesperson at Future Group’s multi-branded outlet Central.
An additional boon has been the early onset of the festive saeson in October compared to last year. Retailers with a nationwide presence say their stores in the East and South, where Dasara is celebrated with gusto, have seen a significant uptick in sales.
The trend is expected to gather pace in the West and North in the coming weeks as Bakri-Id and Diwali gather pace until November, by when shopping for the wedding season typically begins.
Early indications this festive season in Kerala and East indicate increased spending this season, especially on apparel and accessories, says Vinay Bhopatkar, Brand Head, Van Heusen. “We believe this trend is to continue in the upcoming festive seasons across India. We have also lined up strong marketing plans to drive consumer footfalls during the season,” Bhopatkar adds.
“Same store growth for traditional retail is in early double digits because of the various targeted consumer promotional activities. In addition, the lower base from last time has also helped,” says analyst Gautam Duggad of Motilal Oswal Securities.
Max Retail says their same store sales in the East grew a whopping 80 per cent on their festive collection on account of increased buying ahead of the pujas there. “Since Onam, we have seen an uptick in shopping. We are seeing a smarter consumer who is more and more discerning. They do not want overpriced products, but at the same time are not willing to compromise on the latest trends either,” says Vasanth Kumar, Executive Director of Max Retail.
The icing on the cake is that multi-branded stores who typically have a large offering even below Rs 1,000 are seeing products priced around Rs 2,000 flying off the shelves. Footwear and other accessories are showing a huge increase in sales, with consumers picking up between 20 per cent and 50 per cent more than they did last year.
“We have seen our same store sales of accessories grow 23-24 per cent this time around,” says Shekar C S, President, Max Retail. “Basically, we are seeing shoppers not only walk in for apparel, but the entire ensemble that the store offers. We are encouraged and have set ourselves an ambitious target of 25 per cent same store sales growth this October-December quarter.”
The fashion retail industry has been cautious this season as a general slowdown in spending across categories was expected to hit the hitherto booming retail industry as well.
Men’s apparel brand Louis Philippe’s Brand Head, Jacob John says the brand is stocking its most appealing merchandise in stores during the festive season to tackle “measured shopping”, despite the positive response to Onam and an increased spending on apparel. “We might see measured shopping from consumers this season as opposed to spending over the last few years. A focus on smaller towns during the season and innovative ways of reaching out to segmented buyers from our loyalty programmes are going to be key aspects of our strategy,” John says.
Rishi Vasudev, COO, Tailored Clothing and Sportswear Division, Arvind Brands, said the company is aware of the negative sentiment in the market but is going ahead with its plans while being prepared for any untoward development in consumer spending.
“We are aware of the situation and are being cautious. We don’t want to be playing on the front foot when there is a bouncer coming our way. We are going ahead with our expansion plans but are on our toes to brace ourselves for anything untoward that may come our way.”