India – one of the most culturally diverse nations- is a land that is constantly brimming with festivities all around the year. However, the months of October and November mark the busiest time for festivities and with the year entering into the final quarter, we explore if this special season can bring back life and colour to an industry reeling under the distress of the pandemic.
Every year around the peak season, businesses across the nation fill their hearts with hope and ready themselves to serve their customers and set new benchmarks of profitability and sales. Likewise, even in this season,
much hope has been placed in India as brands look forward to bouncing back and getting back in the game after being adversely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As per a survey conducted by American Express and market research firm YouGov India, about 42% of small business owners in India are confident that consumer spending will return over the upcoming festive season and help their businesses stay afloat. However, amidst a long standstill and lack of cash flow in the market, the sword of uncertainty is seen hanging around
Mayur Toshniwal, MD, Future Supply Chain while addressing the uncertainties ahead says, “Currently, people are focusing on their essential needs but as India opens up and people start socialising, there will be an expected uptick in demand during the upcoming festive season. Although there is uncertainty about the consumer demand on account of COVID-19,
brands across sectors are waiting for the festive season to see a boost in sales numbers.”
“Categories like Fashion and Automobile are pinning their hopes on the festive season for an upturn in demand. E-commerce players on the other hand are expecting to double their sales during the~Mayur Toshniwal, MD, Future Supply Chain
upcoming season compared to last year.”
“While a faster comeback has been observed in the Pharma, medical equipment, e-commerce, and consumer electronic segments, several automotive majors they work with, have shown steady signs of recovery.”~Ketan Kulkarni, CMO & Head – Business Development, Blue Dart Express Ltd
The Automotive industry which showed zero sales and profit during the lockdown picked up with sales in two-wheelers and is most likely to make profits during the festivities.
With a very optimistic approach towards the upsurge during the festivities, Alok Sharma, CEO & CO-founder NebulARC believes that certain categories will indeed capture more demand than others with a surge in the sale for both e-commerce and retails.
“E-commerce and retails will see a surge in sales during the festive season. However, due to inconsistent cash flow in the market, the spike would be skewed (with a few categories seeing more demand than others). While electronic retailers can expect a decent rise in demand during Diwali; with the restrictions still in place, apparel retailers might experience fewer sales during Diwali as compared to a year ago.”~Alok Sharma, CEO & CO-founder NebulARC
An industry body CEMA also reports that the consumer durables sector which started making profits with the onset of the festive season with Onam in August is expecting doubledigit growth in the upcoming festive season supported by the absence of domestic help amid health safety concerns due to COVID-19.
Arindam Bhattacharya, Vertical Head- Fashion and Sustainable Development Holisol while speaking about fewer sales in apparel retailers feels that online outlets will see a boost in sales.
“This festive season, brands are expected to get their 50% sales from the online channels, especially the demand for fashion & lifestyle products which will surge by 50%. For offline/ physical retail, footfall will remain the concern however; the conversion is expected to up by 30-35% as consumers will be going in with the intent of purchase instead of window shopping.”~Arindam Bhattacharya, Vertical Head- Fashion and Sustainable Development, Holisol
While companies do talk of profits to make a comeback it is believed that more focus will be put on achieving top-line numbers.
“In our opinion, more focus of the companies will be on achieving top-line numbers instead of focusing on immediate profits. During the lockdown period, organisations have done significant work on cost control to stay afloat or minimise losses, now their target will be more on sales numbers. On the demand side strong momentum is expected.”~Vikash Khatri, Founder, Aviral Consultancy
BRICK-AND-MORTAR VS E-COMMERCE
Post-lockdown, the companies have been looking forward to a very optimistic and profitable festive season with a sale graph moving upwards from the standstill for both the e-commerce and retail players.
However, the real question is, will the e-commerce sale supersede the Brick and Mortar sale or will consumers opt for offline shopping?
Although the nation is moving towards the new normal amidst rising number of cases, it is anticipated that people might hold back from going back to the brick-and-mortar mode of shopping.
“We are witnessing the online and offline convergence faster than ever before. While convenience has been the biggest driving force online, there is an addition of another important factor influencing the buyer’s decision, and that is safety. Since online commerce has also emerged as a ‘Safe commerce’ option since the COVID outbreak, we anticipate a huge surge in e-Commerce platforms.”~Harsh Vaidya, CEO, WareIQ
While he thinks that e-commerce will remain consumers’ preferred mode of buying, he also feels that Brick-and-mortar will have a huge role to play to satisfy the consumers and meet the demand.
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