Delay in the onset of winters, shorter duration of cold temperatures, and flattening seasonality are forcing makers of seasonality-centric product categories to rework their strategies.
Categories like soft drinks and ice-cream, which generally see a slump in demand during the winter season, have escalated production cycles, while retailers of winter apparel have cut down on inventory stocks and shopping malls plan to advance their winter end-of-season sales amid a significant fall in the number of peak winter days, industry insiders said.
“Since winters are not so severe, we are making more of lighter pre-winter apparel, since those are safer bets, rather than be stuck with heavy winter inventories,” said Harkirat Singh, managing director of Aero Club that makes Woodland apparel and footwear.
Delayed winter has led to slow offtake of sales of woollen apparel and small appliances like heaters and geysers, across the entire Northern India belt, industry executives said.
At the same time, for aerated beverage companies, warmer and shorter winter is leading to sales momentum through the year.
“We have increased production cycles even late November and December,” said an executive at a leading bottling partner of beverage maker Coca-Cola. “Usually, sales would taper after the Diwali season, but with warmer winters, things have changed.”
Some malls are in discussions with retailers to start winter sales early. “With winters yet to hit North India, it’s better to target consumers through sales,” said Ravinder Choudhary, assistant vice-president at Delhi’s Vegas Mall.
He pointed out that this is the first winter season since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 when there are no restrictions, and retailers had stocked winter products in advance.
Many fashion retailers are not yet worried about their winter stock. “Winter is an important period in the fashion life cycle, especially in India where the cycle is relatively shorter for about two months only, and dominated by the northern part of the country,” said Vineet Gautam, chief executive of fashion retail company Bestseller India.