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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Diwali: Big retailers like Shoppers Stop, Future Group join bash as sales match pre-slowdown days
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KOLKATA: Lifestyle department store chain Shoppers Stop achieved its highest single-day sales on Sunday at 21.59 crore, leading a pack of big retailers bursting Diwali crackers as festive sales outdo their own estimates.
Shoppers Stop on Monday shot off an email to all its employees about the record-breaking Sunday sales. The country's largest departmental store chain also achieved its highest full price sales at Rs.74.53 crore during the last week, 31% more than the previous high of Rs.56.7 crore.
Others such as Future Group, Wills Lifestyle, Reliance Retail, Woodland and Lifestyle too had one of their best week ever as consumer sentiments have bounced back this Diwali.
"After many years, this Diwali has seen sales pick up similar to the pre-slowdown days," Kishore Biyani, CEO of India's largest retailer Future Group, says.
Biyani says the retailer has grown sales across categories to outstrip initial estimates. Sales of key categories like food, apparel and electronics have all grown by more than 20%-25%.
Some retailers attribute the revival in consumer sentiment to a spate of reforms measures that the government announced in recent weeks, which included allowing up to 51% foreign investment in supermarket chains and 100% FDI in single-brand retail.
Shoppers Stop Managing Director Govind Shrikhande says the positive upswing is noticed since the last 45 days. "The recent economic reforms announced has worked on the stock market and spread positive sentiments across consumer segments," he says. Shrikhande confirmed the chain reported its highest ever sales this Diwali growing at high double digit, but declined to share sales numbers.
ITC-owned Wills Lifestyle Chief Executive Atul Chand says Diwali sales started almost a month back and has improved on a weekly basis. Wills Lifestyle reported 25% jump in overall sales, while the company's same-store sales have increased 15%.
"The best part is that sales has been fairly consistent for the last one month instead of just few days, which was happening in the last few years. Even conversion rate is better, signifying only serious shoppers are in the market," Chand says, adding that average billing size has gone up by 18%-20% to 4,500. Kabir Lumba, managing director at Lifestyle departmental store chain, owned by Dubai-based Landmark Group, says sales have grown by double digits across categories.
Shoe and apparel retailer Woodland clocked more than Rs 4-crore sales on Sunday across its 350-plus stores in the country. Its sales in the 15 days preceding Diwali were 38% more than last year at Rs 29 crore.
Reliance Brands, which markets premium apparel brands such as Diesel, Kenneth Cole, Ermenegildo Zegna, Timberland, Paul & Shark and Superdry in the country, too has recorded high incremental sales. "The holidays and long weekend in run-up to Diwali boosted sales since our target consumers are more time-starved than anything else," Darshan Mehta, president and CEO at Reliance Brands, says.