This Has Been A Record Festive Season For Online And Offline Retailers
India’s online and offline retail sales surged to a record during the festival season, another indicator of an economy on the mend overcoming supply disruptions and rising prices. And the surge in demand for everything from mobile phones to apparel may not be done yet as the wedding season has just begun.
Amazon and Flipkart and other online retailers recorded their biggest-ever festive season with brands clocking $9.2 billion (about Rs 65,000 crore) in gross sales, according to estimates by RedSeer Research. That surpassed the pre-pandemic high of $5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore). The sales, however, fell short of the $9.6-billion forecast.
The month leading up to Diwali was crucial to make up for demand lost earlier in the year during the second wave of the pandemic and subsequent restrictions. And a surge in festive demand ties up with other indicators suggesting that consumption and economy are recovering.
About 10 crore shoppers ordered online during the period, suggesting a 25% jump from last year and nearly 1.25 times higher than the pre-pandemic levels, RedSeer said. For online retainers, nearly 57% of the shoppers were from tier-2 cities, suggesting the sales were dictated by affordability schemes.
The GMV per user fell from Rs 6,570 to Rs 6,490 due to discounts and higher demand for low average selling price categories like fashion.
Amazon Seller Services Pvt., too, said that 79% of the new customers came from tier 2 and 3 areas like Ernakulam, Guntur, Godavari and more during the month-long festive sale.
Demand for mobile, electronics and appliances remained strong, accounting for more than a third of the total gross merchandise value, driven by new launches and EMI options, RedSeer said. Amazon said more than 10 lakh customers purchased a smartphone on Amazon.in for the first time.
Online-only brand Thomson recorded an 80% growth in televisions and a twofold jump in sales of washing machines. “There was a huge demand for big screens like 43, 55 and 65 inches. Our 32-inch TVs were sold out within the first three days of sales on Flipkart due to an unexpected surge in demand,” Avneet Singh Marwah, chief executive officer at Super Plastronics Pvt., the local licensee of Thomson brand, said.
RedSeer said the fashion category, which suffered last year, too, gained momentum. “With hordes of people finally getting to leave their homes after months of lockdown, the fashion category witnessed resurgence like never before.”
Driven by consumers’ desire to refresh their wardrobes and new innovative business models catering to shoppers in tier 2 cities, sales of fashion items via online channels doubled this year, RedSeer said.
Home furnishings and décor, however, were subdued during the festive season this year.
Pickrr, a software-as-a service platform that provides shipping and logistics support to mid-segment sellers, too, said demand rose on its platform to 1.5 lakh daily orders during peak Diwali season.
Offline Sales Surge
Buyers didn’t just order online. With vaccinations picking up and the threat of a third wave receding, people visited brick-and-mortar stores during the festive month.
According to the Confederation of All India Traders, a lobby of retailers, business worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore was recorded during Diwali this year. That’s the highest in at a least decade.
Gold jewellery and silverware witnessed sales worth Rs 9,000 crore, while packaged commodities worth Rs 15,000 crore were sold, the lobby said. “The incredible Diwali 2021 sale ended the economic slowdown that had persisted for the last two years.”
The Retailers Association of India, too, said in a statement that all the signs indicate growth over the pre-pandemic levels across regions. Sales in west India rose 23%, followed by the east at 13%, and 10% each in the north and the south over October 2019, it said.
Wedding Boost Likely
CAIT said the traders across the country are now preparing for the forthcoming wedding season. 25 lakh weddings are expected between Nov. 14 and Dec. 31, it said, with 1.5 lakh in Delhi alone. “Business worth Rs 3 lakh crore is expected.”
(With inputs from Sesa Sen)