Home / Industry / Retail /  Diwali shopping lights up apparel, jewellery retail

NEW DELHI : NEW DELHI: Retailers of consumer electronics, ethnic wear and jewellery reported reported strong demand in the run-up to the festival season that culminates this week. Several retailers and manufacturers Mint spoke to reported year-on-year jump in sales, with some claiming to have matched levels seen during 2019 festival sales.

This festive season marks a break from the year-ago period as a steady decline in fresh coronavirus infections amid the rapid pace of vaccination have been inspiring consumer confidence. Consumers have also resumed purchases of discretionary items that they held back on.

"Sales leading up to Diwali are on a positive trajectory, registering overall 42% over last year and 26% over 2019 for home appliances," said Manish Sharma, chief executive officer, Panasonic India and south Asia. Consumer sentiment has been “optimistic" , metros continue to perform well and there’s a rise in demand from Tier-II and Tier-III markets, he said.

Electronics retailer Vijay Sales said in terms of value of goods sold, sales touched pre-covid levels. This was also due to price hikes taken by manufacturers of electronics goods. Volumes, however, are yet to touch 2019 levels. “The feel-good factor is there, people are buying. And we expect this not only during Diwali, post Diwali too the sentiment will be positive," said Nilesh Gupta, director at the electronics retail chain said. Consumers, he said, have continued to upgrade household appliances post the pandemic.

Local arm of Japanese home appliances company Sony India expects 30-35% value growth compared to Dhanteras sales last year. “There has been a remarkable response from customers for adoption of large-screen premium televisions, especially 139cm and above. We have also been able to sell considerably high number of soundbars right from entry, mid to high-end models, which has positively contributed to our market share," said Sunil Nayyar, managing director, Sony India.

The week also saw consumers purchase gold jewellery on the occasion of Dhanteras. Demand for gold jewellery and bullion on Dhanteras is expected to have risen 20-25% compared to 2019, industry experts estimate.

"Shoppers bought large pieces for upcoming weddings but switched to light-weight jewellery for gifting and festive season buying," said Ashish Pethe, chairman, All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council.

Pethe said demand was also triggered by resumption in weddings that were postponed or happened under restrictions earlier this year. Moreover, consumers’ confidence in gold as an asset class has been reinforced, as a result allocation towards gold and jewellery has increased, he said.

Dipu Mehta, MD at diamond jewellery firm ORRA, said they are seeing pent-up demand even as weddings are creating a higher demand for jewellery.

Jewellery retailer Tanishq reported “all-round" growth this festive season - across price brands and product categories.

"The tailwinds of the economy are positive and consumer sentiment is upbeat, particularly for the jewellery category. Gold price has moderated as compared to last year," said Ajoy Chawla, CEO, Jewellery Division, said commenting on Dhanteras sales specifically.

Chawla said there is a share of wallet gain compared against travel, purchase of automobiles and other discretionary spends. There is good demand for lightweight, wearable jewellery apart from wedding jewellery. Wedding purchases are likely to see more traction in second-half of the year, he added.

C. Vinod Hayagriv, managing director at C Krishniah Chetty Group Of Jewellers, said the retailer crossed five-year sales in terms of quantity and value. “Our sales data shows higher gold sales, silver and diamond sales. More younger consumers buying compared to earlier years," he said.

Shoppers also returned to stores to buy occasion wear, a segment that was severely hit as covid cast uncertainty over social occasions. Retailers reported a "bounce-back" in ethnic wear sales.

"The last 45 days is definitely pleasantly surprised us. We do see a lot of the festive and occasion wear shopping also coming back now," Siddhartha Bindra, managing director, Biba said.

However, shoppers are also watching their wallet. With prices rising across the board, consumers are seeking better value for their money.

Data from e-commerce enablement company Unicommerce suggests that while online order volumes increased 90% year-on-year on the pre-Diwali weekend, average order value declined 15-20% compared to year-ago period.

"Fashion and accessories are the only category with negligible change in average order value. This can be attributed to the increasing number of consumers buying festive clothing ahead of Diwali. Electronics and fashion continue to dominate the e-commerce industry with a maximum share of GMV and order volume respectively," it said. Online fashion order volumes were up 45% year-on-year during the festive period. Unicommerce tracked online sales four weeks prior to Diwali.

Gurmeet Singh, Chairman and Managing Director Johnson Control Hitachi Air Conditioning India Limited also said shoppers have turned cost-conscious.

"Festival demand has been robust for TVs and other home appliances. While AC sales are better than last year, it still is not in line with the demand of other consumer durables. The financial crunch has made consumers cost-conscious but with the opening up of the economy, they are now willing to splurge on quality products," he said.

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