NEW DELHI | BENGALURU: The onset of summer hasn’t melted the winter woes for India’s fashion industry.
Effects of the November 8 demonetisation that sent consumer confidence and sales plunging until February continue to reverberate across high-street shops and malls, prompting brands such as Zara, H&M, Massimo Dutti to advance their mid-season sale even before the customary winter discounts ran their course.
“The situation is bad for everyone. There is too much unsold stock,” said the head of a global fashion apparel company.
“This is the first time that the midseason sale is happening in March. It always takes place in May. There is about a 20% impact on business compared with last year. January was okay because of the end-of-theseason sales.”
Mall owners say sales were down up to 20% in February and the first half of March compared with the same period last year. In New Delhi, Zara and Massimo Dutti already have 50% discounts on various products, while H&M stores have “midseason sales” offering discounts. The UK’s Marks and Spencer is giving customers 50% off on the purchase of a second pair of trousers or T-shirts.
Across malls and outlets, it is raining discounts. Promod has 50% off on a wide range of products, while Tommy Hilfiger is giving a voucher of Rs 9,000 on purchases of Rs 24,999, and Nautica is giving products worth Rs 2,000 free on sales of Rs 11,999.
“These brands are stretching the sales season in one way or the other. Sales have sharply dropped since February and it is a good 25-30% fall in February and March, compared with the sales of December and January. So, brands are resorting to discounts again,” said the head of a company that runs a chain of malls. “Although the brands will not acknowledge this, February and March have been pretty bad. Now, there is a lull in the economy, and there is a drag.” M&S said the discounts are part of a promotion planned earlier.
“These are planned promotions. It was there last year. We do these promotions to give incentives to consumers to come to the store,” said Venu Nair, chief executive for M&S in India.
For its part, H&M said the mid-season sale is not unusual. “The mid season sale is part of H&M’s global strategy in between seasons to sell out transitional garments as we move to the new season, and there is nothing unusual about this,” an H&M spokesperson said.
In Bengaluru, brands such as US Polo, Peter England, Melange, and Flying Machine are giving gifts as part of the Ugadi festival sale. US Polo is giving shoppers a free shirt if they shop for Rs 8,999 and above. Peter England is giving away sunglasses worth Rs 2,499 on a shopping bill of Rs 5,000.