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Onam bustle in Kerala: ACs, textiles fly and sadya orders rise

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Mahabali is back in Kerala and Onam bustle is evident everywhere. Flower vendors are crowding the streets of Ernakulam as pookalam (floral decoration) competitions take off, air-conditioner sales are booming and caterers are clocking big orders for sadyas (feast) despite a hike in prices. The State government’s decision to go ahead with Onam bonus for its employees despite financial constraints has revived sentiments.

For retailers all over India, training their eyes anxiously at Kerala’s Onam sales as it is a barometer for how the festival season will play out, there seems to be cause for cheer. However, not all the sales seen in this period are a result of festive sentiment. 

ACs record cool growth

Take the home appliances category where air-conditioners are literally flying off the shelves. Due to the deficiency in monsoon rains in Kerala and dry summer like conditions, Onam this season has witnessed air conditioners sales grow by around 200 per cent, says Jerry Mathew, Managing Director of WhiteMart, a leading consumer electronics dealer. 

B Thiagarajan, Managing Director, Blue Star Ltd, says that Kerala market has witnessed an unprecedented 120 per cent growth for the company’s air conditioners.

Textiles see new trends

Wearing Onakkodi (new garments for Onam) is an indispensable part of the festival tradition but fashions change every year. According to EP George, patron of Kerala Textiles Garments Association, the trend this season is jacquard weaves, digital print, and traditional ethnic wear. During Onam, the State sees ₹10,000 crore worth of garment sales both in organised and unorganised segments.

Sadya economics

Catering centres that sell cooked sadya items through makeshift stalls are keeping their fingers crossed due to rising commodities prices which have made the feast dearer. The rise in prices of jaggery, sugar, and milk has had an impact on payasam, which has seen a price increase of ₹30-40 per litre. The Ona sadya market in Kerala is estimated to be a ₹500- crore industry and catering units are charging an average of ₹1,500 for sadya for a four-member family with two payasams.

Dominic Mechery, a Kochi-based brand consultant, said this year new trends have emerged like shoppers opting for sustainable brands and a big shift towards e-commerce. The rise in online shopping has led to the emergence of new brands that are doing well. Overall, the branding landscape in Kerala is vibrant and dynamic.

Brands are adapting to the changing needs of consumers and are finding innovative ways to connect with them. Quoting a study of Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said the retail industry in the State grew by 10 per cent in 2022.





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