The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Willow power mauls malls

New Delhi, March 22: Cricket is in the air. And if India is playing, everything else is shoved to second place by the true-blue fans to watch the men in blue. Shopping on the day that India is playing' Are you out of your mind!

And thereby hangs a tale. Retail footfalls, and consequently retail sales, find it difficult to score on a day when our boys are hard at play. According to an informal study conducted by KSA Technopack — a consultancy that specialises in retailing — there is a 30-40 per cent drop in footfalls in shopping malls whenever the Indian cricket team plays.

Herminder P. Sahani, associate director, KSA Technopack said: “The study has confirmed that footfalls come down by 30-40 per cent when the Indian side is playing. The only other time that footfalls come down by that much is during bad weather, especially fogs and rains,” he said, adding, “The fall in footfalls is more because of males than females.”

While industry notions vary on the ratio of footfalls to sales, experts agree that in a general retail store like Ebony, the footfall to conversion into sales ratio is low, but it will be higher for a focused retailer like The Home Store.

“There is a drastic loss of footfalls on the days when India is out there on the fields; it is as much as 60-70 per cent on a keenly awaited match,” said Vishal Raizada, head, all-India operations of the home accessory chain that has 52 stores all over India, of which eight are in Delhi.

“For our kind of focused retailing, 99 per cent of the buyers who come all the way, are there to buy rather than browse. So there is serious revenue loss on that particular day, but we are prepared and are running several promotions to make good the loss,” said Raizada. Interestingly, many promotional schemes run by The Home Store are related to cricket scores by the Indian team, said Raizada.

Some experts opine that when the buyers hold back on that shopping spree for a particular day, there is a surge on the next day. Others, however, disagree. “The final World Cup match is on Sunday. Even if they want, office-goers are unlikely to do on Monday what they had put off on Sunday because of the match,” said one retail industry analyst.

Others have tried to play down the talk about the slump in footfalls every time Team Blue plays. “There is 10-15 per cent perceptible decline in footfalls during the day India is playing an important cricket match,” said Suneet Singh, who is a key marketing functionary in the retail chain Ebony, which has nine outlets in India. “On an average, the conversion of footfalls to sales is estimated at about 40 per cent,” said Singh.

A senior manager from Shopper’s Stop said there is a loss of footfalls and proportionate sales dip owing to day-time cricket matches, but said the same is true for other external factors like bandh, festivals and bad weather. “During festivals, there is both surge and a downturn,” he said.

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