Digital cameras, branded watches, pens, wallets, affordable tablet computers, chocolates and sweets gift hampers and smart phones have replaced the large dry fruit packs, luxury gift items, gold coins, according to the ASSOCHAM survey released a few months ago.

To do a reality check on this count, ASSOCHAM representatives even interacted with dry-fruit traders in Khari Baoli area of New Delhi, one of the largest spice and dry fruit market. Of about 40 of shops surveyed here, almost all of the respondents said their Diwali business has never been this dull as corporate orders have nose-dived by about 75-80 per cent. It was also ascertained that prices of dry fruits have gone up by almost 20-25 per cent this Diwali.

Retail gift wrapping industry is also likely to feel the heat as gift sales suffer this Diwali. Many company representatives even said they have deferred their plans for holding an annual Diwali party for their employees and are not distributing any festive bonus whatsoever owing to a weak business performance.

While India Inc had spent over Rs 2,000 crore on Diwali gifts in the year 2009, according to rough estimates by ASSOCHAM, the businesses had increased their gift budget by an astounding 60 per cent in 2010 as the estimates reached to Rs 3,200 crore according to ASSOCHAM.

Apparently, according to an ASSOCHAM survey conducted last year around Diwali to ascertain the sentiments of India Inc vis-à-vis corporate gifting, corporate houses had reportedly trimmed their budgets by about 25-30 per cent, while this year they have gone ahead and slashed it by almost 50 per cent.

Many of these even said that although they have no interest to indulge in such expenses, but they have to go ahead with it just because it has become an annual tradition of sorts and thus can’t be avoided. Businesses are scaling down their gift plans by almost 45-50 per cent as expenses balloon and income along with profit margins are shrinking, according to the concluded ASSOCHAM survey.

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