Big brands on sale

Given the global financial crisis, 2009 shows every sign of being a slow year for retail sales. To lure upscale customers some of the globe's biggest brands are coming up with attractive price cuts.

Sushmita Choudhury        Print Edition: December 25, 2008

Given the global financial crisis, 2009 shows every sign of being a slow year for retail sales. To lure upscale customers, who have tightened their alligator-skin belts and cut down on discretionary spending as a reaction to economic volatility, some of the globe’s biggest brands are coming up with attractive price cuts. Even in India, where nobody is voicing the dreaded ‘R’ word, the finance minister has asked the consumer goods industry to cut prices to boost demand. The result is that this is perhaps the best time for aspirational customers to stock up on brands, both top-end and budget classes. Here is a selection of bargains on offer:

DISCOUNTS ON HOTEL STAYS
As hotels lose corporate bookings in the face of the global downturn, they are fighting back with freebies. One of the hottest deals currently on offer comes from the Marriott group. Stay for two nights at any of their Indian properties till 11 January 2009 and get credit worth Rs 3,000. This can be redeemed either at the spa, for a room upgrade or for dining out. The newly opened Park Plaza hotel in Noida is quoting Rs 8,999 a night for a double room till December 31. The rack rate is Rs 13,000. If you are heading to the US, Europe or Southeast Asia, check into a Ritz Carlton hotel to avail of the Reconnect package, featuring stay, breakfast and up to a $200 resort credit.

HOT DEALS ON WHEELS
In the face of plunging stock markets and rising pink slips, car manufacturers are finding it hard to sell premium vehicles. Porsche India’s managing director, Rod Wallace, has admitted that slow sales are expected in the last quarter of this financial year. In an attempt to boost sales, the brand has tied up with Reliance Capital to offer takers easy financing. Porsche has also introduced a pre-owned car programme in India, which would involve refurbishing a pre-owned car and re-selling it with company warranty for up to 24 months. Given that luxury car patrons change their wheels every three years, you get a practically new car at a much lower price (up to 60% cheaper), but with guaranteed after-sales service. If you want something cheaper, there is the Honda Civic Hybrid version that now costs Rs 13.36 lakh—Rs 8 lakh cheaper than in October 2008. This is the biggest price cut in Indian automobile history, so make the best of it.

LUXE APARTMENTS FOR LESS
Much like the other sectors, real estate is facing turmoil. But developers’ woes have translated to home buyers’ joy, particularly in the luxury space. With the number of clients falling faster than snowflakes, realty giants are vying with each other to roll out unique selling propositions. So Assotech is offering its clients a hot air balloon ride to enjoy the 360 degree view that each condominium at its upcoming project, Celeste Towers, Noida, will provide. Other players are taking things a step further by way of easy financing and price cuts. Orbit Corporation has cut its rates by about 15% from Rs 70, 000 per sq ft to Rs 60,000 per sq ft for apartments at the luxurious Orbit Haven on Napean Sea Road, Mumbai, one of India’s most expensive streets. The company had planned apartments of 4,300 sq ft each (Rs 30 crore @ Rs 70,000 a sq ft) but has now reduced the size to 2,800 sq ft per flat (Rs 16.8 crore @ Rs 60,000 a sq ft). Similarly, Unitech Grande in Noida has a 15% discount on upfront payments for flats costing Rs 2-3 crore. At the Golden Grand Project by Bangalore-based Golden Gate Properties, where prices start at Rs 64 lakh, you can buy a condo by paying 75% of the property value in pre-set instalments and the remaining 25% after five years.

BARGAINS ON BLING
If you’ve lusted after a carat, there is no time like the present to acquire it. The global meltdown has adversely affected the diamond trade, and compared with last year’s figures, the demand has witnessed a 5-10% decline, admits Manoj Khanna, CEO of Amaris Regalia, an indigenous luxury jewellery brand. Due to this slump in demand, the prices have been cut by at least 5%. Besides, Lister Technologies has recently launched a Website called Caratlane.com, which is dedicated solely to the sale of diamonds by directly linking the customers and the manufacturers. “We have seen a price reduction of up to 15%,” says Srinivasa Gopalan, CEO of Lister Technologies. “The reduced prices will drive increased sales over the next several months, making diamonds that much more affordable for people,” he adds. Time to bling it on.

PROMOTIONS ON APPAREL, ETCETERA
When you don’t know if you will have a job next week, designer label buys may seem like a bad idea. But, then again, with brands like Chanel, Versace, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana and Chloé cutting prices on their products by 8-10%—for the first time in memory, perhaps—it’s an opportunity like never before. Back home, for those on a tight budget, Pantaloons has recently announced price cuts, ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 500, depending on the product category.

Wine connoisseurs too have something to cheer about—top wine brand Chateau Lafite has slashed prices by about 25%. A case of 12 of the 2005 vintage that used to cost £10,000 four months ago (Rs 7.7 lakh) now comes for £7,500 (Rs 5.7 lakh).

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