People are scared to step-out, visit malls, and have a good family time shopping and eating. Moreover, multiplexes, now shut for months, also played a vital role in attracting visitors to malls.
COVID-19 has changed the world’s definition of an enjoyable weekend. Unlike the pre-COVID era, people prefer staying with their families and spend a relaxing and most importantly a safe weekend at their homes.
However, this shift has severely impacted the retailers who once experienced burgeoning crowds at their stores during the weekends and evenings and COVID-19 is to be held completely accountable. People are scared to step-out, visit malls, and have a good family time shopping and eating. Moreover, multiplexes, now shut for months, also played a vital role in attracting visitors to malls.
“Most of the shopping that is happening is necessity purchases, while weekend shopping earlier used to be a mix of necessity and discretionary purchases,” said Vijay Babu, vice president (home appliances) at LG Electronics, India’s largest appliance company.
“Weekends used to be a reserve for family time which would include visits to malls, movies, and shopping, a routine which has got completely disrupted by the pandemic,” said Devendra Chawla, the managing director at Spencer’s Retail and Nature’s Basket. Shopping is now largely done by a single member of the family whereby the weekend skew has come down, he added.
The customers albeit, have not totally given up shopping, they have rather shifted their medium and time of purchase. The majority of the people now prefer shopping during off or lean hours in order to encounter minimum crowd and stay-aways from the hassle of standing in queues while others have completely made online their go-to shopping destination.
The famous Sunday-shopping remains the worst hit, which once was the highest-selling day for most of the retailers from all walks of life. Weekend curfews in states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, and Assam contribute enormously to the same.
“Sundays, which earlier generated the highest sales, is now even lower than weekdays,” said J Suresh, the chief executive at Arvind Fashions which sells brands such as Calvin Klein, Gap, and US Polo Assn.
“With consumers having enough flexibility due to work from home during weekdays, we have seen Saturday sales go down by a third but are still the strongest followed by demand spread uniformly across other days,” he said.
Not just fashion, but the scenario is similar for other consumer goods like laptops and smartphones which are currently in demand as the work from home trend reaches the zenith.
Neville Noronha, the Managing Director at Avenue Supermarts that runs DMart, while commenting on this situation, said that the authorities should consider the impact on retailers due to the ongoing scenario and extend the working hours on weekdays for essential retailers. “It helps manage social distancing significantly better. Having restricted hours has the reverse effect,” he added.
The Retailers Association of India has urged states to allow shops to remain open on weekends because closures were affecting the recovery of the retail business.“Closure of stores is a business loss, impacts consumer confidence, and leads to the loss for the economy,” association CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said.