Companies said sales would have been much better in a consistent supply situation. Demand is more for premium products such as high-end smartphones, large-screen televisions and larger refrigerators, leading to all-time high Navratri sales of electronics and smartphones.
Navratri ran from October 7 to 14. Shortages are greater in the premium segment too. Even categories such as beauty and sportswear have reported a surge in business over pre-Covid levels.
Car makers such as Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra are securing strong, double-digit growth in booking momentum over last year’s season. However, dealers say retail sales have been hit due to production challenges as consumers want a definite delivery date.
“Last year, there was pent-up demand driving sales during the festive season,” said Deepak Bansal, vice-president, LG Electronics, India’s largest white goods manufacturer. “This time, it is more regular festive purchases, a healthy sign of positive consumer sentiment. In fact, if supplies were consistent, the growth would have been much higher.”
Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director, sales and marketing, at India’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki, said enquiries and bookings have grown 15-16% while retail sales are down by a similar level due to poor supplies. “The bounceback in demand is being compromised by the supply side disruption,” he said. “The availability of models may potentially impact the booking momentum.”
Despite challenges, LG expanded Navratri sales by 15%. Smartphone maker Realme said it clocked sales of Rs 3,500 crore during the nine-day period from October 2.
Mahindra got bookings for 50,000 units of XUV700 in a few hours with a cumulative ex-showroom value of nearly Rs 10,000 crore.
Realme India chief executive Madhav Sheth said positive consumer sentiment is returning in force and the smartphone industry is expected to register healthier demand this year. Realme expects to sell 6 million handsets.
Electronic retailers such as Tata-owned Croma, Vijay Sales and Great Eastern Retail have clocked sales growth up to 30% over last year’s Navratri.
Avijit Mitra, MD of Croma, said consumers are upgrading across products. “The supply chain continues to be erratic and, in some products, the demand is outstripping supply,” he said. “We expect this pace of growth to continue through the festive period, as overall consumer sentiment is upbeat in most markets.”
Road to Revival
Navratri is the first leg of the month-long festive season – the biggest consumption period in the country, accounting for over 35-40% of annual sales for several categories. The demand recovery is a crucial indicator of economic revival, which has been improving month-on-month after the deadly second Covid-19 wave.
Industry executives said the rise in consumer sentiment was due to declining infections and increasing vaccinations, festive bonuses paid by the government and private companies, the record-high stock market, month-long sales at Amazon and Flipkart and promotional offers from companies.
Navratri sales have grown 3-4% over sales in 2019 in beauty, sportswear, athleisure and liquor, while anchor retailers in malls such as H&M and Zara have touched pre-pandemic levels, said Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO of Select Citywalk.
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