A look into the performance of Book and gift retailers

An insightful report looking into the performance of Book and gift retailers against the backdrop prevailing economic scenario has some heartening indications. The recent report in the Economic Times by Writankar Mukherjee and Sreeradha D Basu point to the fact that gifting has managed to beat slowdown to some extent.

Giving a perspective on the Book and gift retailers’ performance, the story goes on to note: “At a time when the organized retail sector in India worth Rs 27,000 crore is facing its worst ever crisis, the book-and gift retailing segment appears to be the least affected.”

The report points out that leading book retail chains in the country such as Landmark, RPG Retail’s Books & Beyond and Crossword have reported only a marginal negative impact on their sales. In fact, they are witnessing a rapid revival in customer offtake.

According to an estimate, the pure-play organized book retailing in the country is well over Rs 300 crore. The same grew around 25 percent before the slowdown hit the plans. 

Giving a clearer picture, Himanshu Chakrawarti, Landmark chief operating officer, has been quoted as saying that growth will get affected this fiscal year. However, the hit will be marginal. The industry’s overall sales growth has come down by just about 15 to 20%, far less than apparel, groceries, lifestyle retail.

Book retailing is clearly emerging as a recession-proof market segment in India. In fact, the book-and-gift retail venture of Tata group, Landmark, is experiencing a sales growth of roughly 18-20%. It operates 25 stores across the country. Interestingly, most of these have a strong merchandise mix of movies, toys, music and gifts.

Arvind K Singhal, retail consultancy Technopak Advisors chairman, expects books-and-gifts retail to retain its growth momentum. According to him, people prefer to read a lot during economic slowdown. The number of social occasions is also going up, triggering gift sales, he reasons.

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