Indian businesses prepare for festive sales without COVID restrictions

Krishna N. Das and Aftab Ahmed

NEW DELHI, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Indian companies are hiring thousands of temporary workers, expanding into smaller cities and launching new products as the country prepares to celebrate its first absence of COVID-19 restrictions in three years. Holiday season.

During the Hindu Durga Puja and Diwali festivals from September to November, many in this country of 1.4 billion will flock to decorate their homes and decorate their homes during Durga Puja and Diwali. Buy new clothes, cars, cell phones and other items. E-commerce giants Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart have announced deep discounts.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said its 80 million small and medium business members have annual sales of more than $1.5 trillion, and this year’s Diwali sales are expected to be at least 30 percent higher than last year.

“Consumer sentiment is very positive after two years of restrictions,” said Praveen Khandelwal, CAIT secretary general, who has traveled to many parts of the country this month, urging traders to stock up and ensure they have a variety of products to compete with online players.

Demand for CAIT members has returned to more than 90% of pre-pandemic levels, he said.

While India’s annual retail inflation rate snapped a three-month downward trend in August, accelerating to 7%, the trick is to offer customers options that fit their budgets, says Khandelwal, who is holding meetings across the country for the businesses he represents .

Ecom Express, which delivers products on behalf of the e-commerce company, said its parcel handling capacity had doubled to 6 million a day, and it expects to soar to 65 percent over the festive season, with much of the increase coming from smaller cities.

Smartr Logistics, which started operations a year ago, said it is expanding into a dozen smaller cities, in addition to adding new centers in many other big cities such as New Delhi. It cites growing demand during the festive season, as well as the goal of connecting smaller cities.

Yogesh Dhingra, founder of Smartr, said: “Our goal is to enhance connectivity beyond the big cities and bring better accessibility and ease of doing business to SMEs in second- and third-tier cities.”

Dunzo, an online delivery platform backed by Indian retail energy group Reliance Industries, said August was a busy month due to numerous festivals, with demand typically rising by as much as 30% throughout Diwali.

Dunzo executive Mrunmayi Oke said: “We have planned our inventory so that we stock our assortment according to the festivals celebrated in each city.”

Logistics operator Delhivery Ltd said end of last month to create more than 75,000 seasonal jobs around September , to meet the “significant increase in sales during the festive period”.

Automakers such as Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Maruti Suzuki have recently or planned to launch new models.

The Association of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said earlier this month that while a good monsoon and the upcoming festive season could boost demand, high oil prices are a problem. (1 USD = 79.7130 INR)

(Additional reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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