Home >Companies >News >Festive boost for apparel retailers

India’s top apparel retailers clocked 60-90% of last year’s festive season sales this year, with shoppers buying ethnic wear, children’s clothing, and winter and occasion wear from stores.

Arvind Fashions, V-Mart, Spykar and Biba said pent-up demand during this year’s longer-than-usual festive season, followed by weddings and the onset of winters in north India, helped apparel retailers do brisk business after months of struggle to get shoppers back into their stores.

“Festive season was good—we had looked at 75-80%, but we are more towards 85-90% of last year’s levels. It was a good sign," said J. Suresh, managing director and chief executive, Arvind Fashions, which retail brands such as US Polo Association, Arrow, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Flying Machine, Unlimited and Sephora in India. Though festive sales beat internal estimates, it was lower than a year earlier.

“Consumption patterns have changed significantly due to covid-19 but during the festive season things have improved slowly. We have witnessed a spike in sales—online is doing quite well, while physical stores have seen reduced footfall. Business for us was at 60-65% (compared to last year), though regions, such as parts of West India, Bengaluru and Chennai, are quite low in sales," said Siddharth Bindra, managing director, Biba India, which sells ethnic wear. The festivities aided demand for semi-formal and formal Indian wear after months of selling casual and work-from-home clothing.

Most shoppers, however, bought ‘need-based’ products and stayed away from discretionary purchases. “People have not really shopped for a while, and Diwali also generates a need for newer clothing. So it’s definitely need-based shopping," said Suresh.

Value retailer V-Mart said its festive season sales was 70-80% compared to the year-ago period. “October was a little colder compared to last year—we had a good winter upswing in sales. If we see the duration between Durga Puja and Diwali, sales improved month-on-month, but it will take some more time for business to normalize," Lalit Agarwal, CMD, V-Mart Retail said.

Footfall at Spykar’s stores were at 60% compared to last year, and sales were on a par with last year, led by markets in Gujarat, Maharashtra and parts of the Hindi belt. “We are 100-103% of what we did last year at this time. In many cases, we were even 50% better than last year’s numbers. Some markets, such as Bombay and Delhi, are however not keeping pace with the rest of India," said Sanjay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar Lifestyles Pvt. Ltd. The ticket size was larger as Spykar incentivizing purchases, he added.

However, for the full year, retailers expect to report a significant decline in overall sales compared to the previous year.

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