Retail industry feels that the present slowdown is more sentimental than real and utmost caution is required to deftly handle the current phase, according to major retailers in the country.
Shailesh Chaturvedi, CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India, said that though the slowdown was experienced in the metros, the tier II cities have recorded robust growth in consumer spending. He, along with Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas, Pradeep Jain, chairman, Parasvnath Developers, Sumit Lal, director and GM (India) European Lifestyle Brand and Rajiv Mathur, CEO, Akansha Management Group, were speaking in the panel discussion on retailing challenges in times of economic slowdown, organised by Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) in New Delhi.
Referring to the sales of his own brand, Chaturvedi said that for the month of October this year, the growth was almost 100 per cent. However, he expects some slowdown in the next few months. “It is the right time for the retailers to study the consumer behaviour in depth,” added Chaturvedi.
Taking the discussion further, Gautam Dutta said that innovative products have to be designed to retain the consumer interest in the product to balance out the negative perceptions conceived rightly or wrongly by the consumers. He also added that in difficult times one requires clear cut communication strategies to reach out to the consumers.
Pradeep Jain observed that the scare of slowdown was germinated mostly in the minds of the customers through some ill-informed media reports that a catastrophe was going to take place in the country.
However, Jain mentioned that there is an acute shortage of quality land in the country, particularly in the metros, which have pushed up the rentals.
Meanwhile Sumit Lal gave credit to the flight of capital triggered by the FIIs for the present crisis. He also emphasised that retail segments should not indulge in any knee-jerk reactions by drastically cutting down the ad expenditure. They should look forward to more viable alternatives like changing the medium of advertisements; cutting down the periodicity of advertisements etc. He also mentioned that it was the right time to get closer to the consumers and to study their behaviour.
Discussing about the manpower in the retail industry, Rajiv Mathur said that Indian retail industry’s obsession to serve the customer is very low. They have to think very big about product value enhancement at all levels to bring themselves at par with global players.