The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yule pull pips Puja spree
- Generationext prefers to splurge at year-end

The word is out: for the young Calcuttan, Puja shopping is all but passé. It’s far more cool to shop during the last days of the year.

From chartbusting melody to movies for home, partywear to perfumes, cellphones to smart toys, the Christmas week has seen a crowd crush to match the Pujas and more.

More than 10,000 people walked through the Park Street portals of MusicWorld on Thursday and the store clocked sales in excess of Rs 5 lakh — “the best ever by an Indian music store on any Christmas Day”. The 7,000-sq-ft store is now eyeing a record Rs 1-crore sales this December.

Retailers — from books to music, readymade garments to cellphones — are making hay while the Yuletide sun shines.

“There seems to be a paradigm shift in the shopping pattern, with a more westernised GeneratioNext preferring the Christmas-New Year window to the Pujas to go on a spending spree,” observes R.S. Rekhi, head, operations (east), Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd.

Both the Pantaloons showrooms, at 22, Camac Street and Gariahat, have registered a 30 per cent growth in sales on December 24-25, compared with last year, and Rekhi declares that partywear, particularly in new-age fabrics, has been the rage.

New entrants, too, are warming up to the winter euphoria. Forum, the lifestyle mall on Elgin Road, registered an X-mas footfall of over 20,000. “Our weekend walk-ins have consistently topped 10,000 this month, with business growing 20 per cent. Unlike the Pujas, when they buy mostly clothes, Calcuttans are picking up a range of products, including expensive fragrances and personal-care items, to add volume to sales,” says Somnath Sarkar, customer care associate and manager (operations), Shoppers’ Stop.

At MusicWorld, there’s controlled entry for the crowds, puja pandal style. “People are in a spending mood and everything, from Bollywood blockbusters to Lee Alison-Sibley’s Tagore offering The Distant Near, are moving fast,” says regional manager Lalita Sinha. The pop picks in Christmas: the Kal Ho Naa Ho soundtrack and the Lion King view CD.

Landmark CEO Gautam Jatia feels the presence of NRIs in numbers during this holiday season is a major growth driver. The books-music-gifts-toys anchor in Emami Market, on Lord Sinha Road, reports a 15 per cent rise in business over last year. From Christmas trees to the latest John Grisham bestseller, imported toy spy kits to the new international chartbusters, the shopping basket is eclectic and the crowd is young, cosmopolitan and adventurous.

Fun and fad often score over essentials at this time of the year. “Unlike the Pujas, when the shopping pattern is more traditional, people now go in for new gift ideas and gadgets, pushing up new connections and handset sales,” says Deepak Gulati, CEO, eastern region, Bharti Cellular Ltd.

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