Companies miss having a blast on Dhanteras

NEW DELHI: The bumper sales punch was missing at Dhanteras this year and it was more of ‘business as usual’ at showrooms, especially in the metros and bigger cities of the country. While sales of jewellery, the most preferred commodity on Dhanteras across northern and western India, did see some growth, the usual “ballistic” trajectory was absent from markets.

Sales of cars and two-wheelers witnessed a not-so-exciting performance as there was a heavy spillover of held-up deliveries from the previous month, which got reflected on Dhanteras day when people prefer to take home new metal. Some companies, such as Toyota, said business has been “too slow” and they are struggling to even reach half the numbers retailed during last year’s Dhanteras.

Hyundai, the country’s second-biggest carmaker, however, said there has been a “healthy rush” for its vehicles, partly due to the re-launch of Santro.

Overall, the industry has witnessed a subdued festive season, Puneet Anand, marketing head of the company said. “There is cautious optimism,” he said, reflecting nervousness of the industry.

Yadur Kapur, one of the largest retailers for Honda Cars and also BMW, said the situation has “started looking up” over the last few days. “High oil prices, stock market correction, and rupee depreciation have hit sentiment. However, the market is gaining some momentum now.”

Car sales have already been under pressure over the last few months as there is heavy build-up of inventory on low sales, forcing companies to offer discounts to lure buyers.

Officials at some of the two-wheeler companies said, while they are aiming for double-digit growth on Dhanteras, the excitement is still not at a fever pitch. “The bumper punch is still not there.”

Jewellery retailers also complained of a less-than happy market trend. “The run-up (to Dhanteras) has been subdued. While sentiments are reasonably positive, they are not as ballistic as last year,” Sandeep Kulhalli, senior VP (jewellery retail) at Titan said.

Rahul Gupta, chairman and MD of PP Jewellers and Diamonds, said what is helping the industry is a recent dip in the prices of gold. Satish Padmanabhan, sales head for Sony, said the industry growth has been patchy with some cities lagging in demand.

Pushpa Bector, VP and head of DLF Shopping Malls, said the impact of the stock market beating can be felt on Dhanteras purchasing.

“Our feedback suggests that jewellery sales have not been very heavy.”

Phone makers are particularly unhappy at the turn of events this year, especially as a lot of the buyer demand has been met by the heavy-discounting offered by online retail giants such as Amazon and Flipkart.

“I haven’t seen such a low confidence in the offline retail markets in the last two decades. The sentiment is of frustration and depression as a large number of Chinese brands have cornered the market through hefty discounting on online portals,” a top mobile retailer said.

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