It's time to take the bait

Contrary to popular perception, slowdown is often a good time for savvy spending. In the first of a three-part series on recession bargains, Sushmita Choudhury tells you how to sniff out offers on electronics, apparel and eating out.

Game for an impulse purchase? No? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone in Frugalville. Fearful that the worst is yet to come, the majority of Indians are tightening their purse strings. A consumer study conducted between December 2008 and January 2009 by Starcom MediaVest Group reveals that 70% of the respondents from the upper socio-economic classes have started cutting on big-ticket purchases and travel, while those from the lowerincome groups are skimping on food and beverages, mobiles, telecom spends and consumer durables.

Contrary to popular perception, this is, in fact, the right time for smart spending. Instead of postponing your planned purchases, try to leverage on the recession bargains on offer. Besides the ongoing end-ofseason sale—which not only began well before its usual time in February, but also offered 20-25% additional discounts compared with last year—retailers are now dangling baits, ranging from exchange offers to freebies, in an attempt to boost sales. These strategies are not new, but the savings they promise are higher than usual. Says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consulting Inc: “The discount phenomenon is likely to continue for another six months, with more price cuts and innovative offers.” However, most promotions will only last till retailers manage to empty out their piled up inventories. Happy shopping!

 “The discount phenomenon may continue for six months, with more price cuts and innovative deals.”

Harish Bijoor
CEO, Harish Bijoor Consulting Inc.

Apparel: Look out for non-price cut promotions. For instance, Shopper’s Stop is offering free shipping for online purchases costing over Rs 1,000.

Another increasingly popular strategy is to attract buyers by promising more value. Says Raghav Gupta, president, Technopak Advisors: “If you give a customer 5% off on a Rs 1,000 shirt, he may not see much value in it. But if you give him an additional product free, which may cost Rs 50, the same as the price reduction, he might think it’s a better deal.” This explains why Greenways is giving five banarasi sarees for the price of two, while Allen Solly has a buy-one-get-onefree offer on select items. Also, every online purchase at the Fabindia Website will fetch you a free fabric gift pouch. Similar products at the Fabindia stores cost around Rs 250.

Then there is the concept of ‘happy hours’, where shopping at a particular time is the ticket to big savings. Take Ansal Plaza, Vaishali. Though the mall offers a year-round sale as it mainly boasts factory outlets, from 27 February, shopping between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. will bring you free gifts ranging from watches to film tickets.

Entertainment: The restaurant business has been down by 30% since June 2008, claims Raminder Bakshi, corporate director, Jewels India Hotels. Perhaps this is why the upscale Bon South in Bengaluru was compelled to launch a weekend ‘beat the recession’ brunch with unlimited liquor at Rs 550 per head. “The restaurant business depends a lot on the corporate sector, particularly at lunch. Due to recession, this stream has dried up, so restaurants are rolling out group discounts of up to 25% to win them back,” says Bakshi. All you have to do is to land up in a group of 10-15 to avail of this rate. Incidentally, such packages are 15-20% cheaper than in 2007.

Big group translates to big savings at multiplexes too. Says Tushar Dhingra, COO, BIG Cinemas: “Group discounts have seen a rise in the past two years.” At BIG Cinemas, Pacific mall, you get a 50% discount on tickets for a private screening and you need to book just 80 seats. Till last year, you had to book the entire 100-seat theatre and got just 40% off per ticket.

“We may see a lot of promotions this year as for many retailers sales have been lower than the projections.”

Raghav Gupta,
President, Technopak Advisors
A major recession-driven objective is to encourage consumers to maintain the current consumption levels, if not increase them, while retaining brand loyalty. That is why BIG Cinemas has tied-up with bookmyshow. com to offer 25% off on the first transaction, 33% off on the second and 50% discount on all subsequent transactions till 16 May. Similarly, Nirula’s launched its ‘Full Meal, Half Bill’ deal—place an order of Rs 300 or more and get 50% off on your next delivery order. On the other hand, the fast-food chain run by the Jewels Group, Tandoor Express, achieves the same result with its loyalty card. The more frequently you use the card, valid at all restaurants owned by the group, the higher the discount you get.

Consumer durables: What can be more value for money than an exchange offer? Get Rs 10,000 for your old sofa set and up to Rs 5,000 for old electronic items at Big Bazaar’s ongoing ‘Great Exchange Offer’. Want to upgrade your old cell phone? One Mobile’s ‘Adla-Badli’ deal, valid till 15 March, lets you buy a new phone at 1/4th the price in exchange for your old phone. If you want to buy jewellery but can’t afford it right now, Tanishq’s Golden Harvest scheme could help. Pay a fixed amount, between Rs 500 and Rs 5,000, for 11 months, and the company will match that sum in the 12th month. So you get more than you pay for. This offer can be clubbed with any ongoing promotions at the time of purchase and if 10 of your referred friends sign up for the scheme, you get a Titan watch free.

—with Priya Kapoor