The festival season this year hasn't been as bad for the apparel majors, with bulk of them touching 65-70 per cent of their pre-COVID sales. With the country still under the grip of the coronavirus pandemic that has forced people to stay indoors, most apparel brands expected the festival season in 2020 to be a dampener.
"While the overall trend through the COVID period has been casual wear, consumers shopped quite a bit for occasion wear too. They celebrated festivals at home and also dressed up, which has been extremely encouraging," says Siddharth Bindra, MD of ethnic-wear brand, BIBA.
While bulk of the festival sales came from tier 2-3-4 markets, tier one and metro markets also did well. "The big cities caught up too. We were expecting a 30-35 per cent recovery, but we saw a close to 85 per cent recovery," points out J Suresh, MD and CEO, Arvind Brands.
The smaller towns have been an outlier for Raymonds too, where sales are almost back to pre-COVID levels, says Ganesh Kumar, COO, Raymond Lifestyle. However, the consumers have been rather cautious in terms of spends. A bulk of Raymonds' sales in its fabric business came from the Rs 750-Rs 3,000 price points.
"In ready-to-wear, the entry level price-points of Color Plus and Park Avenue led the pack. We expect traction for our premium range during the upcoming wedding season," says Kumar.
Lalit Agrawal, CMD of value apparel retail company V-Mart, says that though there has been a recovery month-on-month, it is mostly the markets in the North which saw higher traction. "The mood is better but not back to normal. While the Hindi belt in the North did well for us, West was not that good." Agrawal too is hoping that the wedding season would drive higher consumption.
As most retailers considerably stepped up their omni-channel presence (with the likes of Arvind Brands and Aditya Birla entering into strategic partnerships with e-commerce marketplaces such as Flipkart), online contributed between 30-40 per cent of their sales this festival season. "Earlier online contributed around 15 per cent to our overall sales; this year, it has contributed around 45 per cent," explains Suresh of Arvind Brands.
Though the apparel industry is on the road to recovery, an overall growth in FY21 is unlikely. "Since the first quarter was a wash-out, growth in FY21 is not possible," says BIBA's Bindra. With COVID cases on the rise again, most apparel brands are seeing a slump yet again, especially in the metro markets.