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India’s annual festive season sales have been buoyant so far, with online offtake hitting $3.1 billion in about four days, according to market researcher RedSeer. This exceeds the gross merchandise value, or the total value of goods sold online, of $2.7 billion achieved last year. The big discounts are likely to last a few more days, so the final figure will be higher. A sudden release of pent-up demand after a prolonged lockdown partly explains that bounce. But that might not be the only reason. Signs of a revival in economic activity may have perked up the Indian consumer’s mood.

“Revenge shopping" is another phenomenon detected by market watchers. It captures a need to sock coronavirus (figuratively, of course) by defying its clamps on life-as-usual. Online orders are seen as relatively safe, which helps. Plus, the government has shifted a tax incentive meant for vacations to the purchase of big-ticket items. The logic of this scheme may have nudged some households to go on a buying binge instead of a holiday. The big question is whether this burst of spending is more than a blip. The demand mustn’t slide back too far once irresistible e-offers are over.

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