smiles all around as tradition continues in COVID times

By Manik Gupta

New Delhi, Nov 12 (PTI) Many traditions have flown out of the window this year but this one stays steadfast – saying it with gifts in the festival of lights. And tweaking it too in keeping with the pandemic times to include mask sets, immunity boosting food hampers and even portable UV disinfection chambers.

The staples – the good old box of sweets, the acceptable dinner set, the trusted mixi or other home appliances and the gourmet food basket – remain of course as people hold on tight to the ritual of exchanging gifts during Diwali to keep the festive spirit alive.

Some are stepping out in masks and face shields, armed with sanitiser and spraying everything and anything they come into contact with. And many are buying online as they celebrate the festival of giving — one gift at a time.

Registering an uptick in the ”work-from-home” (WFH) era are utilitarian gifts such as bean bags, movable desks, ergonomic swivel chairs and even full-year subscriptions to streaming platforms like Netflix for all those evenings when you can’t go out like you once did.

Vandana Thappa, for instance, bought an ergonomic chair and table as a Diwali gift for her brother suffering from a stiff neck and shoulder from hours of sitting hunched over his laptop on a bed.

“He is from the IT sector and is working from home since the lockdown in March. I was wondering what to give him this Diwali and my mother suggested I buy him a good table and chair. It should reach him in a day or two, ” said Thappa, a Delhi-based homemaker, who ordered the gifts online.

As COVID-19 continues its spread, the ”gift of health” is the growing trend. 

So there are immunity based gifting options — dry fruit boxes, turmeric tea and spice kits – as well as reusable masks, AC filters-cum-air purifiers and the ”CoronaOven”, a portable UV disinfection chamber to sanitise everyday belongings manufactured by nanotechnology start-up Log 9 Materials.

“This festive season, the best and most important gift you can give someone is the gift of health. We at Nirvana Being are giving you a chance to do just that and protect your loved ones from pollution and COVID-19 with special offers — valid till November 15 — on reusable masks and AC filters,” said Jai Dhar Gupta, founder of Nirvana Being, a clean air solutions company.

The online sector is booming and malls are seeing increased footfalls as well.

Mega festive discounts offered by e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are keeping their cash registers ringing.

“Diwali lighting and pooja essentials portfolio has seen a 3x growth in comparison to last year”s festive season. Consumers are also looking for dry fruits and chocolates as gifting options. This can be seen through an increased demand of 1.8x for product verticals such as dry fruits, chocolates, sweets, namkeen and food combos, including gift packs…,” a Flipkart spokesperson told PTI.

The traction in the online sector is also evident from the jump in the volumes of orders paid using credit card bill payment or cashback platforms like Cred and Cashkaro.

CashKaro, for instance, witnessed a “4X jump in order volumes and maintained a record-breaking average of one million orders per fortnight all through the pre-sales and sales period so far”, said co-founder Rohan Bhargava.

“We also witnessed a much higher average cart value at over Rs. 6,500 per order, which is a lot higher as compared to previous years. In addition to seeing heavy traction from the metro cities, users from non-metros too displayed a clear preference for online shopping, with 45 per cent of the traffic coming from tier 2, 3 and 4 cities,” said Bhargava.

According to industry insiders, the dominant category continues to be the electronic section, including large and small home-appliances, mobiles phones, laptops and desktops and a variety of other gadgets. 

Smartphone manufacturer Vivo said it has registered “record-breaking” pre-orders and witnessed around “25 per cent” year-on-year growth as compared to the festive season last year. 

“We realise the significance of a smartphone especially during work from home and live from home situations. We are all working consistently with everyone to meet the consumer demand this festive season,” said Nipun Marya, director-brand-strategy, Vivo India.

Gift vouchers and gift cards for brands across fashion, jewellery, clothing and food have also witnessed an unprecedented surge in sales.

”Staycations” have been big too in this vacation-deprived year and gifting a luxury weekend or more has caught on.

Vivanta by Taj, Surajkund and Hilton Garden Inn, New Delhi/Saket, for instance, are offering staycations starting at the celebratory price of Rs 5,750 and Rs 3,500, respectively. The Westin Sohna Resort & Spa has also curated an exclusive staycation package for Diwali at a discounted price of Rs 9,999 on November 13-14.

But for those who are at home, Diwali means celebration and what is celebration without decoration. Some companies are offering customised “bubble balloon boxes”, “personalized flowers combo” or the much in demand “do-it-yourself (DIY) decoration kit” ranging from Rs 1,599 to 2,799.  

“People are sending these bubble balloons with personalised goodies. People are sending ”kadhas”, designer sanitiser bottles, sugar-free sweets etc. It is a bit expensive but a very special and trendy gift that has caught on,”  said Mudit Jaju, founder, CherishX, an event and party planning company. 

The festive buzz and generous discounts have brought back the cheer in malls.

Ambience Mall, Gurgaon, for example, is already registering a strong “80-85 per cent” footfall in comparison to last year.

“There were nearly 45,000 people in The Ambience, Gurgaon, last weekend. Most importantly, you won”t see people leaving malls without handbags, which has not been the case always. The sale numbers are particularly good in categories such as cosmetics, electronics and clothing,” said Arjun Gehlot, director, Ambience Malls.

Gehlot expects the footfall to reach “95 per cent and above” in the upcoming Christmas festival. PTI MG  MIN MIN

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

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