Last week, China reported no new cases of COVID-19, since the time of the outbreak. While buyers are slowly trickling into malls and stores as quarantine measures relaxed in China, people are still wary about stepping out. Though China and India are demographically entirely different, the basic human instinct anywhere around the world is the same. Based on what is happening in China right now, here’s what we think will happen in India after the lockdown is over.
Consumers will be crowd-phobic for sometime
As China recovers, one thing that is extremely evident is that the public are still extremely cautious about stepping out, especially venturing into crowded spaces like malls, etc. Even though the number of infections in China has fallen to zero, the public is still exercising social distancing, according to a report by Bloomberg. Will this be the case in India? The immediate visual that comes to mind when the government revokes lockdown is hoards of people trying to get out of their homes and do everything that they weren’t able to do during the lockdown time. But this could be far from reality. People might just about venture out to work and back. And what is the key takeaway for jewellers in this? Don’t expect great footfalls on the first day after lockdown, you may get very few visitors for the first few days.
You may be allowed to operate but with restrictions
Many stores in China’s busiest locations are open only for a few hours in the day. Retailers like Chow Sang Sang has cut its staff hours to minimize costs. In India, to contain crowds and avoid resurfacing of COVID-19 infection, the government could impose restriction on operating hours
It could be neighbourhood/boutique Jewellers’ time to shine
If you are standalone jeweller with a boutique showroom, then be prepared to attract visitors from your neighbourhood after the lockdown. According to reports, in China, people are increasingly visiting local stores instead of large shopping areas to err on the side of caution. Have you always worried about not being part of a busy, thriving locality? Well, now is the time to reap the benefit of being away from the bustle.
A discount-driven market
Brands across the board in China are trying to woo indifferent and skeptical customers with attractive discounts. Stores, coffee shops and restaurants have slashed prices and are handing out discount coupons to reset buying activity. While discount and luxury don’t go hand in hand, jewellers in India will be seen offering discounts in some form or the other post lockdown.
A boom in omni-channel retailing
Much before coronavirus battered the economy of many countries across the world, omni-channel retailing was a trend that was seeing an uptick. With cautious buyers who are wary of stepping out even after the lockdown, ecommerce will see a major boom and we will see many brands foraying into ecommerce with a vengeance and jewellers will be no exception. So, get your ecommerce store up and running now!
No splurging, only need-based
While ‘revenge spending’ as a term sounds soothing to our ears, it may not redeem all what is lost. It will be a while before the economy resurges from the aftermath of this pandemic. Reports reveal that Chinese buyers are sticking to essentials and are buying only what is needed. As salary cuts and mass layoffs will be rampant in the near future, consumers’ purchasing power will drastically come down. According to Ruder Finn, a consultancy firm, 82 per cent of over 800 consumers in China with an annual income of approximately a million, are planning to cutback on spending on jewellery, handbags and beauty products. As gold in India is seen as an investment and is a fundamental purchase during weddings and special occasions, people will not write-off jewellery for sure, however, what they buy and how much they buy will change for sure.
An accelerated increase in AI and robotics
In China, the pandemic has promoted the use of AI, big data and robotics to facilitate unstaffed services – consumers will eventually get used to the convenience of what these forms of technology can offer. Brands will use AI to capture important information on consumer behaviour and again leverage the same to drive sales on their online platforms.