After a subdued start of Diwali sales, retail biggies raked in the moolah over the last seven days. Leading retailers, including the likes of Pantaloons, Westside, Wills Lifestyle, Ebony and even Landmark clocked close to 40-45% growth in sales during this period.
Industry apprehension of a damp festive business came to a naught with retailers seeing segments like apparel, accessories, home decor flying off the shelves. “In the last four to five days, sales at Wills Lifestyle chain witnessed a 45-50% growth over last year, thereby, enabling us to meet our expectations,” said Chittaranjan Dar, divisional chief executive (lifestyle retailing division), ITC.
Unlike previous years, when footfalls typically pick up immediately after the Dussehra period, shopping malls this year did not see any sales initially. When contacted by ET, Future Group chief executive officer Kishore Biyani said: “The northward movement of sales started only in the last seven days and is likely to continue for the next couple of days.”
Mr Biyani, which owns the Pantaloons and Big Bazaar retail outlets, attributed the late sales surge to late start of holidays in schools and colleges. However, opinions differ across industry players on the issue. An industry official said the September clearance sales might have cannibalised the festive period sales to an extent.
According to Ebony Retail Holding's CEO Lalit Kumar, “Diwali sales usually coincides with the pre-winter sales. However, this time since winter is yet to set in, the sales were damp in the initial days.” Mr Kumar feels the company's aggressive festive marketing campaign, with a sharp focus on a different categories every week, helped Ebony achieve its target for the festive season.
Revenue earnings of the Future Group during these days was some Rs 10 crore a day taking it to Rs 125 crore plus in the last 10 days. “Aggressive communication, promotional offers and the merchandise mix of apparels, consumer electronics and utensils in formats like Pantaloons, Big Bazaar and e-Zone worked wonders for us with over-all sales growth of some 25-30%. With couple of more days left, sales is expected to rise further,” Mr Biyani added.
Interestingly, retailers saw relatively less action on the counters selling popular gift items and bric-a-bracs. “Corporate booking of gifts was also low this season. Instead, there was much more sales offtake in the home decor section,” Landmark CEO Himanshu Chakrawarti said.
Retailers had a completely new merchandise line to coincide with the festive spirits. Ms Neeti Chopra, head marketing) at Trent, which runs the Westside chain of store said: “The festive products had lots of glitter and embellishment to suit the customers mood. We saw sales growth of more than 30-35% with lots of repeat purchases.”
Industry circles claimed a few outlets saw footfalls growing by nearly 8-10% in the last four to five days. But the increased footfalls did not convert itself to sales commensurately, the source said.