Value segment posts Impressive retail growth.

WHILE the economy is showing clear signs of a recovery, there is reason enough to believe that a brief tryst with economic downturn has forced free-spending Indian consumers to tighten their purse strings. Value apparel retailers posted faster growth rates of 7-8% in the past two months, compared with premium lifestyle retailers, which continue to record flat or marginal growth.

After several months of declining sales, value retailers such as Big Bazaar, Vishal Megamart and Pantaloon have witnessed a smart recovery, while mid-priced and premium lifestyle format stores such as Shoppers’ Stop, Provogue and Life Style are lagging behind with almost flat sales growth, according to industry estimates.

“Broadly, value retail segment has regained an average sales growth of around 7-8% in the past two months, while lifestyle formats are growing at around 0- 4%,” said Rahul Mehta, president of Clothing and Manufacturing Association of India (CMAI). Consumers are clearly not in a mood to shell out a premium, and apparel retailers are now working around the current consumer sentiment, said Mr Mehta. “Lifestyle formats are recording flat growth rates and, in fact, growth was (-)3% in January,” said BS Nagesh, managing director & CEO of Shoppers’ Stop.

Retailers are hoping for an upswing in the lifestyle segment by September 2009 on account of festive buying. Analysts believe that economic turnaround will first benefit the value retail, which would propel the future growth in organised retail sector. In April, Pantaloon, with value and lifestyle sales ratio of 60:40, has marked a sales growth of 23% and 18% in the respective segments. It was 5% and 4% in March, and there was a negative growth in December. Provogue recorded (-)9% sales growth in December. However, in April and May it rebounded to 10-12%, based on same store sales, said Nikhil Chaturvedi, MD, Provogue India.

Roughly, value and lifestyle segments share the organised apparel retail market in a proportion of 3:2 in tier-I and tier-II cities, and recorded an year-on-year growth of 10-12% in the corresponding months of last year. Organised retail has been under pressure since September last year. Apparel retail was worst hit during the period. With consumers starting to cut back on spends, most of the retail outfits suffered negative growth in the second half of the last year. However, with the start of new financial year the organised retail sector has seen a gradual improvement.

GOING SLOW

Value retailers like Big Bazaar, Vishal Megamart and Pantaloon witnessed a smart recovery
Mid-priced & premium lifestyle format stores such as Shoppers’ Stop, Provogue and Life Style are lagging behind with almost flat sales growth Retailers hoping for upswing in lifestyle segment by Sept ’09

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