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EOSS Buzz in the Malls

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The end of season sale has already set foot with several retailers already announcing the dates and offers. While the dates of the keep coming earlier than the year before, the consumers are now becoming fast aware about the deals and dates that they want & are willing to wait it out that long. Against common perception that the malls are not doing well for themselves, stats across our malls show that each has been bigger than the previous one. For some malls it may be a marginal growth in footfalls and consumption, for a couple others its been a drastic increase. The spike in sales and footfalls depends heavily on the catchment and the brands that are present at that particular asset.

Greed is Good – Gordon Gekko said this in film Wall Street. And who knows this better today than so many Shopping Centre and Retail marketers who are following this line as a gospel today. India used to be for many years a 1 season country – retail wise, ofcourse. Winter, Fall, Summer collections were relegated to designer brands that were out of reach of the common man. The trend was bound to change. Consumers now wanted the latest that they saw in films, on TV and when they travelled abroad and fashion proliferated in High Streets and later the mall. I still remember consumers thought discounts to be as 1 time sales. They didn’t know when the next was going to come.That was 2006. 8 yrs in retail is like 2 decades in a calendar year. How things have changed since then. There was 1 mall in your locality now there are 3. Malls were satisfied with the retailer giving discounts as competition was almost absent. Today, it’s a different story. Malls have their own brand to live upto and it has become imperative that they get 10 times the footfall their anchor gets. As the average size of the malls increased, so did their appetite for taking in footfalls, and now it has become imperious to break catchments. But with 3-4 concrete structures in every 3 KM radius, it is tough even to defend one’s territory forget breaking catchment rules.

Enter End Of season Sale Events.

What started as a communication need for the consumers now has evolved into a full fledged war of the malls. Consumers have become smarter-shoppers and shopping centre brands need to constantly out think each other to be able to lure them in. The stakes have gotten higher each year. And so from BMW’s to and from Mahindra Bikes to Harley Davidson- shopping brands  are luring the consumers and changing their loyalties from one shopping destination to another. And the more one offers the larger they are spending to ensure their communiation hits the consumers first. It’s ironical how one tries to break away from the clutter that they themselves are a part of. Malls and retailers alike are pulling all stops to ensure that they do not lose their loyal customers and they go a step further to poach from their competition.

Peak times. What Peak times?

With time, the shoppers have evolved as well. Remember the times when familes used to shop only thrice a year? Birthdays, anniversaries and festive periods. That was the past. Today the average consumer shops throughout the year. Breaking away from the traditional festive seasons where a bulk of shopping used to happen across the country. End Of Season Sale periods are now the new peak shopping time. Consumers today are well aware of the seasons when the retailers and malls going sale and they have now adjusted their annual shopping accordingly. Besides the deals and discounts which may be the same across common retailers at different malls, they also are aware about the offerings that the mall announces and want to try their luck.

Is E-commerce a factor still?

The word out there is that E-Commerce is eating into the wallet share of the malls, but that is not entirely true just yet in Indian context. It is a fact that e-commerce websites are doing their bit to ensure they get consumers addicted to shopping from their living rooms through attractive discounts and deliver at the doorstep. However the fact that they have also joined in the bandwagon of End Of Season Sales means that High Street Retail and Shopping Centres have to be extra careful hereon. As far as PPZ is concerned, all our operational assets have seen a rise in the footfall and consumption figures year on year including the current year. There is still some time before the alarm bells start to ring as the Indian consumer has still not completely shifted its mindset to shopping online. The touch & feel factor along with experience still plays a vital role in the decision making process of the consumers. With the penetration of internet and smart phones in India, this trend is likely to change. You will see more consumers preferring to shop online, but it would also massively depend on how these e-commerce websites cope up with the pressure of meeting expectations of the consumers.

Malls make it Interesting

Having said all that, let us also throw a few other things into the picture. Malls are doing their bit to ensure that they do not lose out on their offerings and consumers to the online market. They come up with various tricks like the FLASH SALE which offers a FLAT 50 per cent discount on merchandize across most brands present at their mall. Some malls have also increased operational hours during festive seasons to ensure that people who come from work or after attending family do’s still have enough time to come to the mall and shop during festivities. Mid-night sale’s have also started becoming increasingly common across various malls in the country.

Enter Social Media

Amongst all this, the most fascinating part is the use of Facebook and Twitter to promote, sell and reach out to the people from their immediate and secondary catchments. From selfie contests to Gaming apps Facebook pages are abuzz with ideas that not only make it easier for the consumer to shop but also spread the word on the discounts they like. Game Apps on Facebook are being used to reduce the entry points of Raffle entries while Twitter is being used to convey the discounts and prizes that are on offer at malls and retail stores.

We see Augmented Reality as the next bastion waiting to be breached and it is only a matter of time before you see discounts floating in the air waiting for consumers to snap them up via their smartphones.

Is all this working?

That is the final question, isn’t it? Expensive gifts, huge discounts and the greed for loyalty. Does this really pay off? PPZ manages malls in metros as well as mini metros like Pune and smaller towns like Dehradun & Amritsar. We are closely tracking our assets in terms of footfalls and consumption and the results are eye popping. Almost all of our centres have reported an average growth of over 30 per cent percent in consumption. That in itself is a huge jump. Fashion categories are doing extremely well and anchors are showing as much as  50 per cent growth in our centres. Ethnic brands which traditionally are high priced are doing extremely well in Dehradun with a couple showing as much as 100  per cent increase in business. But its International Fashion in the smaller cities that is rocking the charts with a minimum of 100  per cent increase and 40 per cent increase in Metros.

Gecko was right, Greed is Good in retail, and consumers have never had the lure this good.