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Sale of formal wear came to grinding halt amid Covid-19


The neatly pleated trouser has a sole taker- the mannequin near the entrance. The sale of formal clothes has nose-dived at apparel stores across the city due to “work from home” (EFH), attributed by the retailers, the new normal in the wake of the pandemic. Every now and then, for a virtual appraisal or a client pitch, the odd white shirt makes it out of the cupboard. Of course, it is paired with shorts, which passes off unnoticed on a screen. Kumar, who works at a store of menswear brand at Dwarakanagar, has been calling up people who were regular patrons before the pandemic to inform them of new arrivals. The response he gets: Wait till the pandemic is over. What is the use now when I am working from home? Rather, please let me know if there are new shorts and tees.”

Madhavan, of another premium menswear brand’s at Daba garden store, used to sell “over 300 formal shirts” a month on average earlier. From April, he has been selling “much less than 100”. The sale of trousers also have gone down sharply, Madhavan said. Normally, three to four shirts sell for every one trouser, retailers said.

Like most other segments, apparel brands are also trying to jump the safety-first wagon to tide over the COVID crisis said, marketers. Many brands have started promoting ‘anti-bacterial’ and ‘anti-viral” shirts claiming to kill 99 percent of the Covid-19 virus, reads a pamphlet at a store near the showroom MVP colony. These brands are trying to capitalize on this insecurity. A better layer of perceived safety is the USP of a host of products – from switchboards to mattress covers. And apparel is no different,” said an advertising professional in Vizag, who handles the campaigns of leading lifestyle retail chains.

Formal women’s wear corner at a city mall at Maddilapalem had one person on Wednesday afternoon- a sales executive brushing a series of striped blazers. Two months before the puja, every weekend used to be a mad rush but now there is hardly anyone now, she said. On top of that, women’s wear has been a major driver of growth in the formal clothing segment for the past several years, in keeping with the women’s’ role at workplaces, said advertisers and officials of apparel companies. And now, the pandemic has put breaks on this as well.

The plunge in sales was not without reason, said officials of leading apparel brands. The new targeted customers for the anti-bacterial range of are bankers, Doctors, sales professionals, and so on. And for the work from home professionals shorts and t-shirts are getting some pull, he said.

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