Lifestyle retail stores unveil plans for a brighter festive season
Priyanka Desai 13 October 2010

Whether it’s apparel, household items, electronics, or jewellery that you are looking for, the big outlets as well as the not-so-big ones are wrapping special packages for the occasion

The festive season has begun. Bright lights are on, the music has started, there's dancing on the street. It's also that time of the year you want to do some special shopping. So, plucky lifestyle store chains that have had a somewhat lean couple of years, are putting up the buntings, hoping to entice you with new items and offers. Whether it's apparel, household items, electronics, or jewellery that you are looking for, the big outlets as well as the not-so-big ones are wrapping special packages for the occasion.

"Diwali is an auspicious occasion, a time to spend time with family and friends, and indulge them with some great shopping experience," says Smeeta Neogi, head of marketing of Westside, the Tata's chain of family fashion stores. "Westside has an array of attractive offers that will make your festive season even more inviting."

Marks & Spencer Reliance India has some special treats this season. "Our store windows will reflect the festive mood, showcasing home furnishings and décor," Nandini Sethuraman, the company's marketing head told Moneylife.  The chain which focuses on apparel and household equipment, has a special '3 for 2' offer on select items of its Home Collection.

This time business is upbeat, in contrast to the past two years when the global credit crisis put a lid on expenses during the festival season. Organised retail sales in the October-December 2008 period, when the financial storm broke, were a low Rs2,605 crore. Things changed for the better last year, when sales grew 18% to Rs3,097 crore in the October-December period. A large amount of those sales are accounted for by lifestyle chain stores.

Kishore Biyani, founder and CEO of Future Group which owns the retail chain of Big Bazaar and Pantaloon stores across over 70 cities and rural locations, believes that the market has improved a lot particularly in the furniture and electronics segments. He expects a 35%-40% growth on the Hometown front this season. "In fashion, we have been looking at 25%-30% more than what we did last year," Mr Biyani told journalists recently.

Shoppers Stop, perhaps the oldest among the lifestyle chain stores, is enhancing its range with the latest in fashion and glamour. Among its best offerings - 10%-20% discount on branded jewellery names like Cygnus, Asmi and more. Spokesperson Naveen Misra says it is concentrating on online shopping. There is a 10% discount on orders above Rs1,000 and no shipping charges.

The not so old Reliance Trends of Mukesh Ambani is planning to gift coupons on minimum sales by customers this Diwali that can be used to make more purchases at its outlets later on. Arun Sirdeshmukh, chief executive of Reliance Trends, says it will launch two new private brands this season. One is Performax in sportswear and the other is Utsav in ethnic wear.

There is a special incentive from Marks & Spencer, which has announced free shopping for 65 lucky winners who will be picked from a raffle of customers buying gift options in its home, fashion and beauty categories.

Yet another popular name preparing for the season is Provogue. "We feel that the festive season invokes a huge interest in the levels of the Indian buyer, so we try and introduce our new collections during the season, so as to be able to celebrate with our customers," Salil Chaturvedi, Provogue's deputy managing director, told Moneylife.

Most of these recognised names are unwilling to divulge too many details about their packages. Perhaps, no one wants to give away a surprise. 

But that isn't something that bothers a big home appliances maker like LG Electronics India. Amitabh Tiwari, head of sales, said that the company plans to spend about Rs140 crore on promotions this festive season, slightly higher than that last year. It's part of the larger sales target of Rs17,000 crore for 2010. Last year LG clocked sales of Rs13,089 crore.

Kumar Rajgopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India, believes that the festive season will be a good one for business, with consumers expected to go shopping with a renewed spirit which was missing last year. The association works with all the stakeholders to create a conducive environment for the retail industry. He suggested that retailers have learned their lessons from the recession and would leave no stone unturned to do things better this time round.

It looks like shoppers will have a brighter festive season this time.

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