KOLKATA | MUMBAI:
Sales of cars, televisions and refrigerators increased more than 15 per cent this Navratri and Dussehra from last year, pointing to bumper business in the run-up to Diwali and calming concerns that the currency swap and the goods and services tax (GST) will have a prolonged impact on consumer sentiment.
Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor, LG, Sony, Panasonic, and Godrej Appliances said consumers across the country, including those in smaller towns, are buying more premium products this festive season.
Companies attribute the pronounced migration up the value chain to a good monsoon, availability of cheap financing options even in the hinterland and an end to supply disruption associated with introduction of GST.
“The consumer buying power is back this Navratri,” said Sony India sales head Satish Padmanabhan.
He said even consumers in smaller towns are buying high-end television sets, such as 4K TVs that start at Rs 65,000, and large-screen models that hitherto were limited to the big cities.
The impact of the GST and demonetisation, which LG Electronics India’s CMO Amit Gujral described as “once-in-a-lifetime” events, is receding. “Nothing can stop the Indian consumer from celebrating big festivals,” Gujral said, adding that sales at the company increased more than 30 per cent over the last Navratri-Dussehra season.
India’s biggest carmaker Maruti Suzuki reported an 18 per cent growth in bookings and 15 per cent increase in volumes during Navratri, while Hyundai Motor India’s sales rose 50 per cent , making this festive season a record of sorts for the carmaker.
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RS Kalsi, senior executive director, marketing and sales, at Maruti Suzuki, said the momentum built up during Onam and Ganesh Chaturthi continued into Navratri.
Hyundai Motor India director, sales and marketing, Rakesh Srivastava said the company is likely to have sold more than 26,000 units during Navratri, more than half of what it does in a month. “The momentum is likely to continue into Diwali. Hyundai may cross retail sales of 50,000 units in September,” he said.
For white goods makers, the Navratri-Dussehra sales came as a major relief after a rather muted Onam and Ganesh Chaturthi this year. The festive season accounts for almost 40 per cent of annual sales for appliance makers.
Manufacturers said demand this year is more for frost-free refrigerators, inverter ACs and large-capacity washing machines. According to industry estimates, the top four firms – LG, Samsung, Sony and Panasonic – have increased their primary sales (to dealers) by 25 per cent this festive season.
Panasonic India sales head Ajay Seth said strong primary demand is an indicator that Diwali sales will be big this year, with the Navratri-Dussehra weekend setting the stage for a bumper season. Sony has clocked 15 per cent growth in volume sales at its stores this Navratri, and is now hopeful of 20 per cent increase by Diwali.
Two-wheeler makers, too, are reporting strong volumes during Navratri on prospects of a robust rural economy, underpinned by good monsoon rain.
Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India senior vice-president, sales and marketing, YS Guleria, said sales increased more than 30 per cent , as higher capacity increased the availability of the company’s products.
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The earliest signs of buoyant festive sales this year were visible when ecommerce marketplaces, led by Flipkart and Amazon, reported their best-ever performance. While Flipkart had doubled its overall sales, Amazon reported similar growth for more than half the categories of products on its web site.
Godrej Appliances business head Kamal Nandi said the online buzz and strong advertising by large retailers have boosted demand, even in markets such as Kerala, where sales picked up after Onam.
Kalsi of Maruti Suzuki, however, said the growth momentum may slow after Diwali to 7-8 per cent for the industry due to the statistical base effect. He still expects that his company will log double-digit growth.