NEW DELHI :
Shoppers braved the cold in north India and rushed to buy warm apparel and winter footwear that some retailers say has helped shore up sales in December.
Retailers such as Puma and Woodland said sales in December are up between 40% and 15% compared to a year ago as an intense cold wave gripped parts of north India and the temperature in the capital plummeted to 2.4 degrees Celsius.
Improved sales will help retailers tide over what has otherwise been a slow period as consumer sentiment and spending has remained weak through much of the year.
Retail sales usually get a boost during the festival season beginning October and the wedding season that follows. However, the sentiment remained muted this year during that period.
Retailers said that a strong winter up north will help drive sales. “Over the last two weekends, winter sales at Fashion at Big Bazaar (FBB) were supported by a dip in temperature. Sales are doing well. Earlier we used to discount a lot more in December. We have started the end of season sale this year, but are managing our margins too," said Vineet Jain, chief executive officer, north India, Future Group, which manages apparel retailer FBB.
In all, FBB has more than 90 points of sale in north of India, where the price of winter wear in retail stores is upward of ₹1,000. Earlier in December, sales in some cities of Uttar Pradesh were disrupted because of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the violence in these cities, Jain said. However, a dip in the mercury has prompted shoppers to stock up on essential winter apparel and footwear.
Sportswear retailer Puma said that a substantial growth in sales of jackets and sweatshirts helped it register a strong growth in north India. “North is growing 40% like to like for us," said Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma India.
In the malls in the Delhi-NCR region, shoppers continued to pour in during the last two weekends of December.
DLF Mall of India registered footfall of 1,18,000 on Christmas. “The market was slow during summer because of a slowdown and sentiment shift," said Harkirat Singh, managing director, Aero Club (the makers and traders of brand Woodland & WOODS). However, consumer sentiment improved during Diwali, “but with this severe winter it has snowballed", he said. Sales at the retailer were up by 10-15% compared to a year ago, Singh said. North and east India account for 60-65% of sales for the retailer.