Brands are seeing early signs of recovery and are encouraged by the numbers. Abhishek Ganguly, General Manager, PUMA India & Southeast Asia agrees that there are clear signs of improving sentiments and sales are growing. "Traffic has doubled over the last few weeks across both offline and online channels," he says, adding that business is getting back to about 70-80 per cent levels of last year, depending on the market.
He says the conversion of a consumer to a buyer is higher as only those with a serious intent to purchase are coming to the shops mostly. "The conversions have increased substantially from pre-COVID times as people exactly know what they want to buy and are shopping with a clear intent," says Ganguly of Puma.
Arrow brand of Arvind is back to 60 per cent level of last year in September. Retail growth, says Shailesh Chaturvedi, managing director and CEO, PVH brands at Arvind, is happening in phases. It followed the pattern of unlockdown in the country. PVH brands include Arrow, Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
"First online sales picked up in August during Eid and Rakhi, followed by sales in high street shops and shopping malls," says Chaturvedi of Arvind. The next milestone is to reach 85 per cent during Durga Puja and Diwali and be back to 100 per cent by February 2021.
He adds that there is a change in the way people shop. "Retailing that was a fun activity before has become an emotional exercise. Since a lot of spending is curtailed on travel, eating out, people are using shopping as a mood lifter and are pampering themselves and their family members with new purchases," says Chaturvedi.
Malls are only operating with fashion brands. Naviin Ibhrampurkar, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Inorbit Malls says some categories and brands are already on-par or higher than last year's numbers. Almost 30 per cent of the mall is shut which includes the multiplex, gaming zone, food court, and dining.
The focus is on essentials, comfort wear such as flip-flops, t-shirts and yoga pants. "As people are focused on taking care of themselves, fitness and training merchandise like running t-shirts, shorts and tracks are seeing growth. Also, with work from home, apparel that are suitable for home workouts and can be worn as leisurewear, performance sneakers and open footwear are growing significantly," says Ganguly of Puma.
Also, there has been a shift in demand between online and offline platforms for brands. The online demand is definitely growing. "E-commerce has doubled compared to pre-COVID times," he adds.
RedSeer in its Online Festive Sales 2020 report anticipates the festive sales for the first event to grow 50 per cent y-o-y over CY19 owing to the new wave of customers and changed dynamics due to COVID. This will lead to increase in e-commerce too. On the basis of the expected strong festive sales performance, e-commerce is expected to grow and reach $38 billion in sales in CY20, up to 40 per cent y-o-y, finds RedSeer.
"There has been a surge in categories such as apparels, immunity boosters, home hygiene, fitness, health monitoring devices, and work-from-home essentials," said Snapdeal's spokesperson. Most of the orders are from Tier II and Tier III shoppers. Nightwear, undergarment, and track pants are the top-selling products in the apparel category while spin-mop with a bucket is one of the highest selling products in the household category. Snapdeal has also added eight logistics centers to its network across manufacturing hubs, including Mathura, Noida, and Mumbai to cater to the growth in demand ahead of the festive season.