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Add-ons to bring in the Eves City women cool to brand bandwagon
- Retail mall sales figures bust myth of female splurge

Women are shopaholics. Men are rupee wise. Right' Wrong.

If you thought women were compulsive buyers and men were more watchful of the wallet, the big boys of retail can set you straight. Large-format retail stores nationally are finally breaking even, and it is men’s expenditure that forms the largest part of the revenue pie.

In line with national trends is the Calcutta male. Forty per cent of Pantaloons’ sales are solely from men’s products, as opposed to around 25 per cent from women’s. The break-up is similar in Shoppers’ Stop branches nationally, and initial indicators point in that direction at the Elgin Road store.

But now, the rajas of retail are rolling out the red carpet for the ‘ranis’ of shopping. Shoppers’ Stop, “fighting the national perception of being a men’s store”, has embarked on a week of promotions, ahead of Mother’s Day on May 11. A whole range of gifts and freebies are targeted at the woman alone.

“Women are financial decision-makers, but they want value addition as well,” explains Somnath Sarkar, manager (operations) and customer care associate, Shoppers’ Stop. Add-ons — in other words, bargains — alone can spur women to spend large amounts of money on themselves. Women are more likely to spend smaller amounts. “Cosmetics and household products are impulse buys,” adds Sarkar.

It is true, with men’s garments costing more on average, that revenues are naturally higher from this segment. But there are other factors as well. At Pantaloons, 60 per cent of the footfall is male. They are most likely to buy men’s clothes and, at a stretch, gifts and stationery. Women are most likely to be shopping with and for the children.

“Nationally, men’s merchandise makes up 40 to 50 per cent of sales across centres. Right now in Calcutta, the balance is tilted at 60:40 in favour of women, but we expect this to be reversed as things settle down,” says Sarkar.

The average value of purchases at the Forum anchor store was, at the outset, around Rs 400. These were mainly from the women’s merchandise departments. Men checked out the range and then came back for the brands of their choice.

But when it comes to brands, women here have been traditionally deprived. They have had to rely on the smaller store, with imports from Southeast Asia for quality and economy. This takes them to New Market and Vardaan, Metro Plaza and Gariahat. For men, the large-format retail store, with the brand names men have grown up with, is not a departure at all.

Raymonds, which has recently launched BE:, a “high-end pret-a-porter” range of men’s and women’s wear, has tasted success with its niche product.

“There is still a way to go before large-format retail of women’s brands catches on,” feels Aniruddha Deshmukh, executive director, Be: and Raymond retail operations, adding that the Calcutta woman has been slower to jump on to the brandwagon than her counterpart in other metros.

Not only have women been less brand conscious and drawn more by product strength and pricing, Deshmukh adds, but there have also been problems with sizing and variety. To come up with a standardised size across India in the variety women need has been a challenge.

But clearly, the way forward for the retail boom is in wooing more women to the store and enticing them to spend more on themselves.

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