The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Slog-over scurry tips sales

Crushed-cotton long skirts to denims with embellishments, the Jassi line to the retro look of the Seventies, stringed high heels to corduroy jackets'

The pent-up Puja shopper, thwarted by spoilsport showers for days on end, more than made up for lost store-hop hours in a slog-overs burst during the last weekend ahead of Saptami. From Camac Street to Gariahat, Elgin Road to Salt Lake, the festive footfall was fabulous and buying brisk.

City Centre, the newest shop-eat-movies hangout, recorded a 'phenomenal' 70 per cent jump in visitors over last week. The Sunday walk-in count touched 35,000.

'Most of the outlets have done around 25 per cent more business than last weekend and the momentum picked up further after the launch of our food court on Saturday,' said CEO Vineet Verma.

Forum on Elgin Road was riding the crest of a 'more serious' shopping crowd to boost conversions, according to managing director Rahul Saraf.

Anchor Shoppers' Stop's unit head Naveen Misra agreed: 'Fair weather, coupled with our laughter festival, has driven more traffic into the store. Sales are up 35 per cent compared with last weekend and we hope the flow will hold on Monday as well.'

The mood was buoyant nearly everywhere as Calcuttans scrambled for last-minute Puja pickings. While Westside reported a 40 per cent jump in walk-ins over last weekend, with a 'tremendous response' to its buy-two-get-one-free offer, Pantaloons' sales soared 17 per cent at Gariahat.

Metro Shopping Centre on Ho Chi Minh Sarani also reported a 100 per cent increase in footfall over last weekend.

And the shopping basket was as motley as could be. If Shoppers', banking more on 'attitude than discount', sold a lot of lounge and partywear, besides the hugely popular Jassi Jaisi line, sand-blast and boot-cut denims were the faves at Pantaloons.

At Westside, women's ethnicwear in shades of orange, peach and pink, besides kids' cargoes and T-shirts, were rolling off the racks, while it was a carnival at the cash tills of Metro plaza, watches and wallets, shoes and saris.

'Stripes have made a comeback, with big brands like Allen Solly and United Colours of Benetton. Even premium shirts in the Gods & Kings range (Rs 1,400-4,000) are moving very well at our exclusive Louis Philippe outlet on Shakespeare Sarani,' said Madhusudan Binani, who also runs premium stores in Forum and City Centre.

Overshadowed by the modern malls and overrun by the under-construction parking lot, New Market was where Calcutta wasn't shopping these past few days.

'This weekend has been worse compared with the last, and we can't blame the customers. There is hardly any parking space, while a clutch of hawkers block the entrance,' laments Ram Mangalani of Mangalani Brothers, at Calcutta's original shopping destination, now in dark decline.

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