Fashion and lifestyle brands expect full recovery in the second half of 2021 – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/cons-products/fashion-/-cosmetics-/-jewellery/fashion-and-lifestyle-brands-expect-full-recovery-in-the-second-half-of-2021/articleshow/80790874.cms

SynopsisEven though Covid-19 cases in India are on the decline, and most of the brick-and-mortar outlets are operational, the pandemic-induced economic slowdown still weighs on the sales of many discretionary items.

NEW DELHI:Fashion and lifestyle brands including Levi’sLeeWrangler and Biba, which were hoping for business at their offline stores to return to pre-pandemic levels by March, now expect a full recovery to happen only in the second half of this year.

Even though Covid-19 cases in India are on the decline, and most of the brick-and-mortar outlets are operational, the pandemic-induced economic slowdown still weighs on the sales of many discretionary items.

“Sales are improving every month but my personal view is (a full recovery will happen) in the second half of the year,” said Siddharath Bindra, managing director of ethnic brand Biba.

Sales of fashion and lifestyle retailers are still at 75% or less of their pre-pandemic levels, retailers and malls said.

However, ecommerce has proved to be saviours for most of the fashion retailers as they are reporting a two- to three-time jump in their online businesses compared to the pre-Covid months.

“Since our business is significantly online, so our overall recovery will be much faster. But if you talk only offline, then we are expecting things to get better by Diwali this year,” said Nitin Chhabra, chief executive of Ace Turtle, the Bengaluru company that last month took over the India franchisee of US denim brands of Lee and Wrangler.

The recoveries are different for different segments of fashion and lifestyle retailing and many of them are witnessing a faster rebound in non-metro and other small cities compared to the metropolitan cities.

For example, work-from-home and consumers’ increasing focus on fitness over the last one year have propelled some sports and lifestyle brands back to their pre-pandemic sales levels.

“We have already done a full recovery,” said Abhishek Ganguly, managing director of Puma India. “It depends on the category you are in. While sportswear is doing well, formals and ethnic will take time I guess because people are generally not going to office. Less formal meetings and weddings are happening.”

Various malls are saying that on an overall basis, the market is still months away from a full recovery.

“Sales are still under 70% and not more than that,” said Abhishek Bansal, executive director of Pacific India that operates four malls in the National Capital Region and in Dehradun. “I don’t see sales going beyond 75% by March end.”

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