According to a recent Retail Sourcing Report Forecast, while the global trade suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the projections for 2021 do suggest that we are on the road to recovery. The report highlighted that global manufacturing rebounded through Q3 and Q4 of the current year, with output figures, exports and new orders having spiked to some of the highest levels recorded since 2018. According to the report, physical-distancing and stay-at-home orders have accelerated the progression of the e-commerce industry, with e-commerce accounting for over 16.1 per cent of total global retail sales in 2020, up from 7.4 per cent in 2015. By 2023, online retail should comprise 22 per cent of total retail.
With Indian retail too on the recovery path, this festive season was the hook that the industry was looking up to count in profits. We looked closely at the sourcing aspect of the retail business to get more insights into the market responses.
Buying on a rise
“The lockdown has forced people to stay indoors and made consumers adjust to the essential style of living. The opening up of the shops and markets came as a breather after months of restrictions. We have been able to register very good sales during Diwali and have been witness to revenge buying. There has been a prominent demand all across our stores, in fact we had to do emergency sourcing just to fulfil the demands we were encountering,” Anshul Grover, Sourcing Head – Bestseller mentioned.
Anshul further mentioned that the response was extremely overwhelming and they could cut corners and make up for the losses the brand had faced owing to the pandemic. Anshul voiced his excitement for the end of the year sale and mentioned that the preparations are underway to make it a worthwhile celebration for the shoppers.
Comfort is pivoting the change
“This year made people realise a lot of things and changed the way they look at the retail market. The industry also altered its path and way of doing things in line with the altering customer responses. One thing that we have learned in this path is that comfort clothing is now becoming the talk of the town and people want to invest on clothes that are easy to wear and which allows them to be comfortable all through their WFH routine. This is where our sales got boosted and we did see a noteworthy response from our customers during the last few months. We were fast to understand the trend and source as per the need of the hour and that helped us stay closer to the customer. We did not have to restructure our sourcing processes, because our offering was well aligned to the times and #NewNormal. We just ensured that the stores, retail outlets and all our touchpoints have enough stocks to service the increasing demands for comfort clothing. We are really aiming to have a good quarter sales in the start of the next year as well,” stated Wickrant Gambhir, Head of Sourcing, Jockey India.
Sourcing to stay on track
Ramesh Ramalingam, AVP Sourcing, Arvind Fashion Limited highlighted that the race to recovery is still not over. “Even though festivities have been a good time to get back on the feet and has motivated us to walk the path ahead with more hopefulness, there is a long way to go. On the sourcing front, we generally stay stocked for the year much ahead in time and given the lockdown, we have been able to sell online and with the stores opening and the festivities, the response has been good overall. But, the trend is certainly towards comfort clothing and that is what we are aiming to increase in our plan for at least a few months in the coming year too.”
Some alterations, preparedness and a strategy to watch the trend has helped brands and retailers source clothing that fits the bill of the #NewNormal. But, they univocally inform that this is just the start; good sales number to moderate business can only give way to a normal market figure when the momentum of sales keeps on. Staying on track is more important now and that will eventually make all the difference.