Pani & Bindu Menon, The Hindu Businessline
Delhi, September 3, 2013
For retailers, there is nothing sweeter than the sound of cash
registers ringing in a potentially exciting business season.
There are so-called inauspicious times, such as aadi and karkidakam
in South India, and the forthcoming shraadh (September
19-October 4), chaturmas and pous in North India. These are periods
when most people do not make any major purchases, like a house
or a car. Even weddings do not take place during these periods.
Given how consumption declines during this time, retailers try
to excite consumers into opening their purse strings with attractive
offers. In the last few years, due to (promotional) campaigns,
people have been buying during the inauspicious period
as it is followed by the wedding season in Kerala, says
Alukkas Varghese Joy, MD of Joyalukkas. This year, we have
seen marginally higher growth over last year.
Nallis, Indias largest saree retailer, has an aadi
sale every July.
Ajit Joshi, Managing Director of Croma, a leading consumer durables
retailer, says that during this period, a lot of finance partners
and product manufacturers come up with various schemes, including
low down-payment, low processing fees and attractive interest
rates. Such initiatives help us sail through this pre-festival
period, adds Joshi. This is resulting in highersales
about 20-40 per cent more than on a normal day.
Earlier, retailers used to witness bumper sales only during big
festivals such as Onam, Diwali or Dasara . Now, with the industry
more organised and with the entry of foreign brands, there is
a huge competition to attract more customers.
The off-season sale trend, which kicked off in South India in
the early 2000s, has now spread across the country.
Devangshu Dutta, from marketing research firm Third Eyesight,
says that earlier, festival peaks could account for as much as
70-80 per cent of a brands annual sale. But in the last
10-15 years, consumers with higher discretionary incomes have
tended to spread their spending round the year. Besides, the availability
of multiple brands and increase in the number of stores has also
improved product visibility year-round. The number of discount
periods has also increased, encouraging customers to de-link their
purchases from the festival period.
It is better for retailers to have a more consistent
and predictable flow of customers than managing huge peaks, which
are impossible to forecast and difficult to fulfil, says
Some retailers do not seem to think there is a season
for sales. Future Group, which has pioneered celebrating local
community festivals, believes each day is an opportunity and runs
offers even on weekdays.
(This article appeared in The
Hindu Businessline on September 3, 2013)