The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brand & binge buying pattern
- Calcutta shopper proves retail savvy

What's the ruling rack rage driving the Calcutta consumer' Wearing trendy and branded clothes, eating out, splurging on books and music, and going to the movies, of course.

A field survey conducted by Trammell Crow Meghraj Private Limited (formerly Chesterton Meghraj) to track consumer behaviour and buying patterns in the city, has thrown up these categories as the footfall faves.

The study (sample size: 1,000, with a monthly income of Rs 15,000-plus) reveals 24 per cent would shop for apparel and accessories at least once a month (see box).

'Calcutta is one of the hottest destinations now on the roadmaps of national and international retailers, as it has proven to be a retail-savvy city. Its short to medium-term potential is immense,' observes Abhijit Das, associate director, Trammell Crow Meghraj.

The international property consultants have been responsible for getting most of the leading brands to Forum, City Centre and Metropolis. The firm recently facilitated the entry of Marks and Spencer, Guess and Women's Secret to the upcoming South City Mall.

The study indicates a marked leaning towards branded products, with 79 per cent of the men polled preferring big national or international brands. This brand bias augurs well for the '20-odd malls coming up in the city by 2009', feels Das.

'The malls have changed the way people watch movies and access entertainment in Calcutta,' he adds. If the destination is right, the fast-maturing Calcutta consumer wouldn't mind travelling 'up to half an hour' to reach the shopping and entertainment zone.

According to the survey, 38 per cent of the city's shoppers will spend up to Rs 1,000 a month on clothes and accessories. This doesn't surprise Manish Agarwal, regional head (east), Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd. 'Apparel has always been the highest contributor to our kitty and at both Gariahat and 22 Camac Street, sales are up 25-30 per cent over 2004. Even in Big Bazaar, clothes fill up 50 per cent of the basket,' Agarwal tells Metro.

Tomes and tunes are high on the shopping list as well, and it shows at the cash tills. MusicWorld on Park Street did over a crore during December 2005 and sales touched Rs 7 lakh on a single day, with weekend footfalls consistently topping 5,000.

Emami Landmark has also recorded a 20 per cent sales growth over '04. 'Many of our regular book buyers drop in even twice a week,' says Gautam Jatia, Landmark CEO.

With over 44 per cent of the sample section spending up to Rs 1,000 a month on eating out, the F&B fraternity also has a song on its lips.

'Business was at least 15 per cent better in 2005, as Calcuttans are making the most of the myriad menu options unfolding before them,' says Baba Kothari, president of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Eastern India.

Over 44 per cent would spend up to Rs 500 a month on movies. Prashant Srivastava of 89 Cinemas is confident this trend will only grow: 'Since it's a content-driven industry, the novelty factor never wears off,' he says.

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