THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thanks to the summer showers and school reopening time, there is a colourful canopy over the city. For many, including students, monsoon also means the season of trendy umbrellas. Sensing a higher sale than the last year, many retail outlets and makers are experimenting with new trends. “We already have people coming in and asking for different brands, but the new stocks haven’t arrived yet,” said Kala, a saleswoman at a popular umbrella showroom here.
Water sprinkler umbrellas, ones with whistle-attached handles and bluetooth connectivity are expected to make a return with modifications. “Cartoon characters will obviously lure the children. The rest of the features are add-ons that will tap into their curiosity,” she added. At present, Popy and John’s are the leading brands in terms of sales and popularity. “The three-fold umbrellas of Popy are the most in demand. Their modest price ranges and durability have brought in more customers,” said V Ravikumar, managing partner at Chellam Umbrella Mart. Three folds of both brands start from around Rs 340 and go up to Rs 400, depending on the design and features. The cheapest umbrellas are offered by Puma with their two folds starting at Rs 240 and three folds at Rs 280.
Popy Boing Boing and John’s 485mm ‘blast’ umbrellas with new designs are what the children are keenly waiting for this season. “Popy Boing Boing comes with the boing boing toy and this is what the children are crazy about. The new stocks from Alappuzha will arrive by next week but we already have parents placing orders for it,” Kala said. Cute 235 mm fancy umbrellas for the 3 to 4 year olds are also in demand. “ Children usually buy single folds as they find it difficult to open the three and five folds. The normal range which children prefer is the 500 mm,” said Neethu M, another saleswoman at the store.
While women still veer towards coloured umbrellas, men stick to the black ones. “Women also buy umbrellas with printed designs which are the most expensive batch we sell, costing around
Rs 600,” Neethu said. Company ‘Real’ dominates the grandfather umbrellas (kalan kuda) sections with elderly and teenage customers.“Five folds are yet to catch up with the sale of three folds in the market,” said Ravikumar. “ Not only are they expensive but customers don’t find them durable too. We only have limited sales of the five folds and most of its customers are females,” he added.
Prices have shot up by a small margin compared to what they used to sell for in the previous season.” Most models have a hike of only Rs 10 in their prices. The sale of Chinese umbrellas has had little effect on the sale of branded ones. People tend to prefer quality over cheaper prices. Most of the Chinese umbrellas don’t last for more than a month or so,” said Neethu.
Although sales have only just begun, vendors await great sales with their fingers crossed.” The previous year’s sales started off with a boom,” shared Ravikumar. “Although we don’t see that zeal among customers this time, it is still too early to judge how sales will progress,” he added.