I am not sure if it is our sins finally catching up with us, or our inability to meet the challenge of a new Medium.
Probably a bit of both.
But the end result is quite clear – the domestic Industry is going through one of its most trying periods in recent times. Retail is slow – very slow; Online is booming, but is largely discount driven. New equations are emerging, new questions are being raised – will a brand kill its image and positioning by heavy online discounting? Will it destroy its own offline distribution by its online foray? Does success online ensure a breakdown in offline channels? Are exclusive lines the answer? Or is it sub brands? Is online selling only successful in its ‘discounting’ avatar or can it also do well with a full price model?
Nobody really knows the answers. All players are seeking their own wisdom and own formulae – and hoping it will help them survive, if not grow.
In the meantime, the industry is reacting in the manner it knows best – by offering steep discounts! In 2013, the EOSS started nearly 15 to 20 days earlier than usual, by end December. In 2014, the discounting – though not called EOSS –started towards the end of November. December saw a full-fledged war. And I guess in the coming years, the Diwali season will see the peak of discounting!
The export front, for a change, is seeing much better times.
The gradual easing out of China from low-cost manufacturing, the increasing cost of production and compliance issues in Bangladesh, and the stable Dollar-Rupee ratio are all having a positive impact. We are back on a double digit growth path, and 2014 is likely to show a near about 17% growth over the 2013 in dollar terms – much higher than seen in many years. This despite no major economic revival seen in either US or EU. These are good signs.
I began by saying that the domestic industry is going through one of its most trying periods in recent times.
Maybe I should say its most challenging times? Or perhaps its most exciting times? Take your pick!
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