The nationwide lockdown being implemented to curb COVID-19 spread has hit Indian fashion and apparel sector hard with sales recovering just 35 per cent that of January levels. Latest Redseer Consulting data reveals, fashion sales in January stood at $7 billion, or $85 billion annualized with the steepest dip reported in April when sales reached only 10 per cent of January levels. Sales by offline retailers, including those from organized brick-and-mortar stores, fell around 4 per cent to 88 per cent by mid-June. Online retailers also failed to match pre-COVID-19 levels even though their sales increased 11 per cent over the last six months.
Demand to revive by festive season
The fashion industry can only hope to bounce back around the upcoming festive season, says the chief executive of a top fashion brand. According to him, the industry’s reliance on a few online channels is not expected to bring the desired results. Cut back on spending on non-essential items may also lead to weaker sales, say analysts. More than 50 per cent consumers plan to cut down on their discretionary purchases, including fashion, in the next six months, opines Mrigank Gutgutia, Director, Redseer Consulting and Research.
Though brands are taking several measures to woo consumers, these have failed to lift demand says Harminder Sahni, Founder and Managing Director, Wazir Advisors. According to him, sales are unlikely to recover for the entire year as COVID-19 cases are rising every day.
Safety protocol for apparel retailers
Retailers and brands are seeking a standardized safety protocol for apparel to boost sales, says Arvind Mediratta, Chairperson, Retail and Internal Trade Committee, FICCI. This protocol will help retailers by certifying their apparels as safe for consumers.
These retailers are also employing disabling features like cash on delivery which are helping them to control returns and exchanges by 50 per cent. However, they need to build virtual trial rooms to help customers check how the cloth looks on them, views Rameswar Misra, Cofounder, Turms.
Post pandemic, fashion and apparel has become one of the fastest selling categories online. Held last month, Myntra’s flagship sale event recorded about 3.5 million customers with more than 10 million items being sold in just four days. Even though customers are currently stocking essentials, they will get back to shopping apparels, once they get back to work, believes Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, Puma India. And this will lead to a growth in offline sales as was evident from the recent pick up in traffic at the newly reopened stores.