It's seven in the evening, and the milling crowds at a shopping complex in Central Mumbai make it seem like a fete in progress. Diwali is round the corner and true to the festive spirit, malls are trying to woo customers with attractive schemes and offers. Traditionally, Diwali has been the best time to refurbish homes and wardrobes or buy jewellery. Retailers are laying out the best with an abundance of offers. The signal is clear, the woes and worries of the July 26 deluge are behind us and everyone is out to make the most of the festivities.
Phoenix Mills - one of the preferred shopping destinations in South Mumbai is running the 'Diwali Fiesta' with many big stores participating. At Big Bazaar there are promotions at every step. 'Buy five, get three free; 25% off, Rs 1,000 off, exchange offers'. Lifestyle and Pantaloon are not offering discounts but have assured gifts on large purchases and bulk shopping.
“This season is more profitable than our end-of-se-ason sale as the margins are higher,” says a Pantaloon official. A major attraction: the lucky draws, offering prizes ranging from DVDs and TVs to gold coins and plasma screens. The environment is similar at Inorbit Mall - it has come out with a 'Khazane Ki Khoj' treasure hunt, where the winner has a chance of winning diamond jewellery or a laptop. A host of other cultural activities such as rangoli competitions, jewellery care and diya-making workshops have been planned in different parts of the mall.
The rush at the malls' confirms that consumers are in the mood to splurge. According to a Big Bazaar official, on a weekday the store gets walk-ins of almost 15,000 people, roughly three times the normal number. On a weekend this swells to almost 30,000 people. “We are seeing a reasonably good season with a growth of over 50% over last year,” says Sanjeev Agarwal, marketing head, Pantaloon Retail. “In this season, footfalls on a weekday are between 45,000 and 50,000. On a weekend this figure goes up to 65,000,” says Yogesh Samat, CEO, Inorbit Mall.
Garments and accessories top the list of hot-selling product categories. “Our focus is always on clothes, especially in the festive season, because the highest part of our revenue comes from there. We also have a good response for white goods,” says Agarwal. Big Bazaar also has a lot of bulk orders for cutlery, dry fruits and home linen. “We have received corporate orders from companies like Lokhandwala Builders and Wockhardt,” says a company official.
In addition, there is a huge demand for aspirational products as well. Young, unmarried professionals, with no family responsibilities are willing to indulge in hihg-end buys like watches, perfumes, designer sunglasses and cosmetics. “About 60% of our customers are in the 16-35 age group and 25% of the revenue is generated from high-end products,” says an official at Pantaloon. “I spent a part of my Diwali bonus on an Espirit watch and got a watch free. This is the right time to shop as there are some really cool offers going on,” says Divya Lalwani, who works with a software firm at Powai.
With malls proliferating, customers are beginning to derive the full benefit of this retail model. “The quality of footfalls has improved and the conversion rate is better. Last year 80% people came just out of curiosity,” says Samat. According to Agarwal, consumers want the best deal, and that doesn't necessarily mean discounts. People w-ho can understand the consumer and tailor their offerings will do best, he says. The festivities are likely to continue long after Diwali.