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Winners and losers: How did Guwahati businesses fare this Diwali?

BNE News Desk , November 14, 2023
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Guwahati: For business owners across India, Diwali, the festival of lights, is seen as a lucrative opportunity as it is considered an auspicious time to buy gifts, either for yourself or for your near and dear ones.

In the lead up to the festival, Business North East learnt that businesses were trying to lure would-be customers with tempting offers to mark the extravaganza. With the festival underway, our team ventured forth to investigate whether sales were as along expected lines, or has the market witnessed a dip this year.

The manager of a Tata showroom in the Zoo Road locality, Kamakhya Motors, said 32 vehicles were sold in the lead-up to the festivities. "We moved many of our models such as the Tiago, Nexon, Punch, and Altoz, to name a few. Total sales amounted to around Rs 3 crores during this period," said Subhas Saikia, upon being approached by Business Northeast. Moreover, Saikia noted, sales were higher this year in comparison to 2022.

As far as the sales of two-wheelers were concerned, said 'TVS Savera' sales manager Raju Saharia, October saw an increase of 50 percent in comparison to the previous month. 

'Mahindra Industrial and Farm Equipment' located on the G.S. Road, the commercial hub of Guwahati, informed that a large number of vehicles have been sold during the festival season. On Diwali (Sunday) alone, the showroom moved more than 50 Scorpio vehicles. Upgraded variants of the Scorpio, which was first launched in 2002, remains a favourite in the SUV sector.

Somewhat expected, Business North East discovered that a large number of white goods (fridges, refrigerators etc.) were also sold by stores in the city. Recently, the Centre had urged manufacturers and sellers of ‘white goods’ to revise the warranty or guarantee policy to reflect commencement from the date of installation rather than the date of purchase.

A representative from the 'The Great Eastern Trading' said they moved commodities worth 15-16 lakhs on Diwali. "Mostly, we sold TVs, fridges, and washing machines," the person said, adding that South Korean brand LG attracted the highest number of customers.

Sellers of jewellery, garments, gift shops, and sweet shops, who were approached, said they had mostly witnessed a lukewarm response.

A spokesperson for 'Vachi Shri' in Zoo Road, a popular sweetmeat selling destination, said they witnessed "good footfall" on the occasion of Diwali. "The newly constructed overbridge in the area appears to have benefitted us as our shop is near the starting point of the bridge, which lends it extra visibility," the person pointed out.

On the other hand, a spokesperson for JBs, which runs several outlets in the city, said it had "limited footfall" as customers "have too many options these days."

As far as the garment segment is concerned, 'Louis Philippe', a brand that specializes in men's clothing and accessories, told Business North East that this year, sales haven't been good "despite the festive offers."

Owner of 'Komal Kiran Sarees', a local enterprise in Basistha Chariali area, said that "the advent of online shopping and other options in the city had caused sales to dwindle" this year.

"This year, Diwali sales weren't good when compared to previous years. For their shopping needs, people nowadays prefer online platforms over the offline shopping mode. And with so many similar stores around the city and shopping malls opening up every other day, there is a distribution-effect taking place wherein customers appear to be evenly spread out over outlets," said the proprietor.

A similar sentiment was echoed by Ankit Singhal, the proprietor of JMK computers in the city's Beltola area, which deals in a diverse array of tech-related products. "This year, sales haven't picked up, even during Diwali", Singhal told Business North East. "It appears that people have spent whatever amount they could spare purchasing clothing items during Durga Puja. Moreover, sales have also been hurt this year as there was a delay in the release of government salaries," he further noted.

'Innovation', another store that sells computers, located in the bustling Paltan Bazar locality, however, informed that sales have witnessed a "slight bump" during the festival after an "incredibly dry" July-August. "We had one of our driest spells earlier this year. However, sales have spiked somewhat during Diwali although they continue to sag below previous levels", a spokesperson for the store said.

The owner of 'Wholesaler Cost to Cost', who introduced himself as Alok, said they moved goods worth around Rs 8-10 lakh from their outlet in business hub of Fancy Bazaar. "We mostly sold laptops, mobile phones, and television sets", he said, highlighting that Apple (known for high-end products) and MI (popular in the mass market) were the best selling brands.

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