Apparel sales: Retail therapy by marriage & travel

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 21, 2012 06:57 hrs

A slew of marriages and winter travel have boosted the revenues of apparel brands and retailers after Diwali, with most of them seeing double-digit growth in sales.

With good sales and prudent inventory management, not many want to advance or extend their discounted sales this time round.

In December last year, due to a sharp slowdown in sales, brands and retailers either extended their end-of--season sales or advanced it by weeks, to clear inventories and free up cash. Many cut on purchases due to a high inventory.

"There has been a good number of marriages between December and February and these are big drivers for the sales of lifestyle products," said Rajesh Seth, vice-president, operations, at the Pantaloon Retail-run Central, seeing double-digit growth in same store sales.

Last year, Central held its discounted sales from January first week to February 15. Since some brands were on sale till the end of February, it could launch its fresh collection for spring summer' only in March. This time, Central plans to rap its discounted sale by February 10 and launch the fresh collection by February-end.

"If you launch a fresh collection early, you get a larger window to sell full-priced products," Seth says. Central aims to have a ratio of 75:25 between full-priced and discounted merchandise.

Adds Nikhil Chaturvedi, managing director of apparel maker Provogue (India) Ltd, which has cut its orders by 10 per cent: "Post-Diwali, our sales are up 12 to 14 per cent, compared to last year. The next 10 days will be defining to see if the trend continues but the overall sentiment seems to be better this year."

Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Brands, which retails luxury brands such as Diesel and Steve Madden, is seeing 30 per cent growth in like-to-like sales, says Sumeet Yadav, business head. "The first two weeks of December have been best for us. Marriages and winter travel have been the big trends of the season."

Suresh J, managing director of Arvind Lifestyle Brands, which retails brands such as Arrow and US Polo, says sales used to dip between Diwali and Christmas, as the former used to come in October. This time, it came in November, helping retailers to keep up the momentum.

Last year, Arvind was forced to go for early discounted sales as the market went for an early discounted sales, Suresh says. "So far, things are good for us. We have to see how things will pan out next week."

According to Rahul Mehta, president of The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India: "This year, sales have been slightly better than expected, hence retailers are not going on sales early this year. Retailers have also cut their inventory by 15 per cent."

Additionally, chains such as Shoppers Stop and Central are holding activation events such as Trouser festivals', Partywear collection,' and Ethnic wear festival', and Makeover marathons' to boost sales.

While physical retailers are not keen on early discounting, e-commerce sites have already launched shopping events.

US-based banking major Citibank did a mega e-shopping sale in the first week of December, in which 17 e-commerce sites participated. Search engine giant Google Inc tied up with 50 such sites to sell various products.

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