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NEW DELHI : After witnessing a tumultuous year and a slump in demand amid lockdown, apparel retailers are now nudging consumers to step out and shop this winter.

Online retailers are rolling out steep discounts for shoppers, while offline retailers are offering discounts on limited inventory and pushing sales of winter-wear up north to improve revenue.

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Myntra, a digital retailer, is hosting its biggest-ever winter season sale in terms of brands and offers for shoppers starting December 20. The retailer is expecting a 1.5x jump in demand compared to the last winter edition of its bi-annual End of Reason Sale, with close to 50% of business coming from tier 2-3 cities.

Brands are pushing discounted merchandise to get more shoppers into their fold. “The brands are pushing the new merchandising with a sharp pricing. It might look like discounting but it is actually very sharp pricing that is coming, and in some cases, brands are offering higher discounts, because they see this as a customer acquisition for their brands in new geographies like tier2-3 cities," said Amar Nagaram, CEO, Myntra.

Usually, customer acquisition happens through a physical store but some brands are acquiring customers in areas where they don't have a physical presence, through Myntra and they're using discounting as one of the levers to acquire customers, he said.

The online marketplace hosts the End of Reason Sale twice a year—the event got a rough start in June as the country was slowly crawling out of the unlock. However, the retailer is expecting a 65% jump in traffic to the platform during the December event, compared to last year as it expects to benefit from more shoppers getting online.

Although apparel retailers saw a big decline in sales as Covid restriction and work-from-home affected demand for formal wear and occasion wear, the branded apparel sector has witnessed gradual recovery post relaxation of lockdowns, and sales have recovered to 70% of pre-covid levels in offline channels as of now, according to a 16 December report by ICICI Securities. Recovery is now aided by a strong winter season.

Brands said they will not run excessive promotions on their winter inventory as demand is strong.

Department store chain Lifestyle said it is starting its offline sales on the 18th of the month largely to liquidate old season inventory. “This year winter wear has been selling much better than previous years. Even as promotions have started, promotions on winter wear are not that big because people are wanting those stocks. As far as the end of season sale is concerned, we have started about four-five days later than what we did last year. And we will not be doing anything very aggressive within the categories where demand is good, and really try to push out the merchandise we've got carried forward from spring-summer so that we can clear that out," said Rishi Vasudev, chief executive officer, Lifestyle and Home Centre.

“Most retail brands commence EOSS post the Christmas celebration and typically it goes on till January-end every year, some brands are already running offers in the mall. Each brand functions differently and they have their own strategies to attract customers. Brands incentivise visitors through various promotions on a regular basis and we are also witnessing a lot more value adds through personal shopper, digital catalogues etc," said Yogeshwar Sharma, executive director and CEO, Select Citywalk mall.

Woodland said it typically begins its end of season sales in the second week of December that goes on till end of January and mid-February. Its discounting is in line with last year, said Harkirat Singh, managing director, at the apparel and footwear retailer, adding that its business is at 70-80% of last year's levels.

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