What Do We Do With a Problem Like Corona?
The Hindu|March 21, 2020
India’s luxury segment is battening down the hatches, as adverse consumer sentiment hurt everything from high-end retail and real estate to art
Gayatri Rangachari Shah

“The other day, my jeweller called saying the bangles I was interested in were available,” says a Mumbai-based PR executive who declined to be named. “I just thought, ‘how unnecessary at a time like this,’ and told them I wasn’t interested right now.” Among the businesses most hit by Covid-19 are anything to do with luxury. Whether it is jewellery, art, clothes, shoes or grand homes, major purchases are being put on hold. Consumers are beginning to exercise restraint, preferring to sit on cash.

A recent survey by investment firm Bernstein and Boston Consulting Group estimates that globally, luxury market sales could be dented by as much as $43 billion. India, whose nascent but growing luxury industry was estimated to be $30 billion in 2018 by Assocham, and projected to grow to $200 billion by 2030, is just beginning to feel the effects of the virus. Domestic demand is taking a hit, and so are exports: India acts as a “back-office” to many western fashion brands to whom it provides raw and semi-finished materials and components. But, as the coronavirus reduces demand from overseas, and as the country goes into lock-down mode with malls and retailers shutting shop, industry insiders see a bleak near to mid-term outlook. As a result, sales — already somewhat muted given our economic slowdown — are slowing.

Retail blues

With most cities banning large gatherings, weddings, that big marker of Indian exuberance and a barometer for luxury spending in India, stand postponed.

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