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India's festival spending booms despite inflation worries, global slowdown


Indian consumers are lapping up everything from cars, houses and television sets to travel and jewellery in the festive season that began last month, according to early data, giving a fillip to growth prospects despite economic gloom elsewhere in the world. Online and offline sales during the Hindu festival period starting in the last week of September and lasting until early November are estimated to cross $27 billion, almost double the amount in the same pre-COVID period in 2019, and nearly 25% higher than last year, according to industry estimates. The sales would include nearly $15.2 billion offline sales, compared to about $8.5 billion in 2019, according to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). This year there will also be $11.8 billion worth of sales on online platforms like Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart, according to Redseer, a market consultancy. Retail sales always peak during October-November, when the nation of 1.4 billion celebrates the major festivals of Dussehra and Diwali. It's also an auspicious time of year to get married, according to Hindu belief. But the surge this year is much larger, mainly due to pent- up demand as COVID-19 recedes after two years of devastating the country, as well as a rise in wages and an increase in jobs as the economy recovers, said industry leaders. "After two years of pandemicfatigue, Indian consumers are upbeat ahead of the festivals," said Sanjay Kothari, associate partner at Redseer, adding online sales rose by nearly one-fifth in the first week of the season compared to last year. With a four-fold rise in online buyers since 2018 to nearly 200 million, and demand for items like mobile handsets and fashion garments spreading to small towns, such sales were likely to remain strong at least for next three months, he said. "We had not gone out of the city since the outbreak of COVID but decided to have some fun this year during the festivals," said Manoj Kumar Das, a 53-year-old tea vendor in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the eastern state of Odisha.

Das, who earns about 30,000 rupees ($364) a month, said he spent over 50,000 rupees on a seven-day vacation, besides buying new clothes for his family this year. Read more at: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/indicators/india-festival-spending-booms-despite-inflation-worries-global-slowdown/articleshow/94850938.cms

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