For home appliance stores across the state, Onam is a season of brisk business as buyers throng them to take advantage of discounts and deals on offer. With flood dampening sales in the last two years, stores in the city were looking forward to encouraging sales this time around. However, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the number of positive cases spiking in the city, stores are witnessing a dull festive season.
“During Onam, we would have at least 400 to 500 walk-ins daily. This year, the number has gone down to between 150 and 180,” says K Noushad, manager, Eham Digital, Mall of Travancore. He adds that the low sales come after the mall had remained closed for around 40 days during the lockdown. According to the management of the major stores in the city, the Onam business has gone down by close to 50 per cent when compared to last year.
However, according to Abhimanyu Ganesh, CEO, QRS Retail Limited, business in the run-up to the festival has been better than what was expected. “Of course, the sale has gone down. But with most people forced to work from their homes and students attending online classes, the sale of mobile phones and laptops has gone up. There has also been a good surge in the sale of smart TVs as OTT platforms have become popular,” says Abhimanyu.
“With the spike in demand for mobile phones and laptops, we have been facing a shortage of stock,” adds Noushad. A number of brands have come up with Onam offers and some stores have even introduced additional offers to lure customers. “The time restriction is a big concern. As we are forced to shut the stores early, sales haven’t peaked. Also, only a limited number of customers are allowed to be in the showroom at a time, so asking the other customers to wait outside doesn’t work always. Compared to the previous months, sales have gathered momentum with Onam festivities setting in.
If things go as expected, we will be able to make up at least 70 per cent of sales registered last year,” says Kiran Varghese, COO, Pittappillil Agencies.A few stores have also introduced ‘video shopping’ facility, the details of a product are explained through a video call. “The payment is done online and we deliver the product to the customer. Around 6 per cent of our business comes through video calls now. It helps to control crowding in the store,” says Abhimanyu.