Mumbai | Kolkata: Top lifestyle and consumer electronics companies are offering some of the lowest discounts in recent years in the ongoing end-of-season sale period, both at stores and online. The companies expect the trend to continue in the festive season as well, as they are either low on stock or demand is reviving faster than supplies.Apparel retailers have limited stock, mostly what remained unsold since March when the country went into the lockdown. For smartphone and electronics firms, demand has outstripped supplies, especially in products priced below Rs 15,000, negating the need for big discounts. In categories such as television, the discounts are the lowest in at least five years, as a component shortage is affecting their production and supplies.”In this situation, people won’t step out and shop even if there is a discount. The industry is seeing one of the lowest discounting periods at stores as well as online,” said J Suresh, the chief executive at Arvind Fashions that sells brands such as Calvin Klein, Gap and US Polo Assn. “Festive season will have a few promotional offers, but not reduced price-tags,” he said.Most retailers are witnessing around 30-50% of their average pre-pandemic sales at stores, with consumers cutting back on discretionary spends and buying only what is needed. While footfalls are picking up, retailers also don”;t want crowds at stores amid continuing worry over Covid-19.”We do not want to create heavy footfall or derail social-distancing norms at stores, so are extremely conscious of the discount given,” Puma India managing director Abhishek Ganguly said. The footwear and apparel company has delayed some planned launches to manage inventory.While brands expect sales to pick up during the festive season, their merchandise buying was severely curtailed, especially for discretionary products, over the past four months as stores were shut and factories closed. This meant, unlike earlier years, they are not stuck with old unsold stock, which are usually liquidated during end of season sales, twice a year.”What was fresh on the 1st of March before we ran into Covid is very fresh inventory on the 1st of August. We didn’t even go through the discounting cycling, which we normally do and therefore, extended the life of it (stock),”; Aditya Birla Fashion managing director Ashish Dikshit told analysts last week.US retailer Walmart in its earnings call earlier this week said sales at its Flipkart e-tailer unit in India had exceeded pre-Covid-19 levels since it resumed operations three months ago.Flipkart and rival Amazon did not respond to emails seeking comment on discounts. Brands that sell on the ecommerce platforms said discounts had come down during the online promotional event last week.77661221TCNS Clothing that sells brands such as W and Aurelia said deep discounts available online are now mostly restricted to the private labels of sellers. “It makes no sense for any offers. We see a lower discounting trend culture,” managing director Anant Kumar Daga said at an investor call.The festive season –; from Onam to Diwali –; accounts for 40-45% of annual sales of most electronics companies. And they say demand could continue to exceed supply over the next few months. “In such a scenario, the pricing is likely to hold during the festive period,” said a spokesperson at Xiaomi India, the country’s largest smartphone brand.Also, over the years, brands have bridged the pricing parity between online and offline and price-tags are now mostly similar at both channels.Kamal Nandi, the business head at Godrej Appliances and the president of consumer electronics manufacturers body CEAMA, said the partnerships of the brands have become stronger with ecommerce marketplaces during the pandemic and they are maintaining prices. “The conflict between channels on discounting have disappeared,” he said.
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