The country’s two largest ecommerce marketplaces have already beefed up their inventory and will start the sales around January 16-17, they said.
A longer-than-usual sales period is also expected this year since business after Diwali has been lower than last year. Also, the marketplaces sense a bigger opportunity as rising infections are affecting sales of brick-and-mortar retailers, executives said.
Normally, Flipkart and Amazon start Republic Day sales around January 20-22 and they last 3-4 days.
“The online Republic Day sales are getting advanced since the marketplaces fear continued surge in infections and stricter restrictions by states, which could impact supply chain and deliveries,” said Avneet Singh Marwah, chief executive of Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd (SPPL) that manufactures and sells Kodak, Thomson, Blaupunkt and Westinghouse brands of consumer electronics and appliances online.
“Also, sales in offline stores are already down, which is a bigger opportunity for the marketplaces to convert business,” he said.
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Emails sent to Amazon and Flipkart remained unanswered as of press time Saturday.
A senior executive with one of the marketplaces said the decision to prepone sales is more to do with fear that the last-mile delivery staff may get infected, disrupting operations.
India reported 141,986 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours on Saturday, 21% more than Friday.
“We don’t expect any significant restrictions on ecommerce since most state governments have realised that online sales are an efficient and safer way for consumers to purchase during the pandemic,” said the marketplace executive.
While Delhi and Karnataka have announced weekend curfews, ecommerce operations and deliveries are allowed. Tamil Nadu is the only state where online deliveries of products, except food delivery, is not allowed during its Sunday lockdown on January 9.
Godrej Appliances business head Kamal Nandi said ecommerce sellers have been stocking for the sales since the last week of December.
“Demand has been muted both offline and online since Diwali. Hence, the marketplaces will try to clear inventory while there are some projections that Covid cases may peak in India towards the third week of January,” he said.
Republic Day sales is the first sale of the calendar year and one of the highest business periods across categories for ecommerce due to higher discounts after the Navratri-Dhanteras period and Prime Day sales on Amazon.
Brick-and-mortar stores, too, run offers in electronics and grocery during the Republic Day period, while apparel retailers’ end-of-season sales peak around then.
Large offline retailers like Reliance Retail, Vijay Sales, Spencer’s Retail and Nature’s Basket expect a higher pick-up in their ecommerce business during Republic Day sales this year as many consumers may avoid visiting shops or malls, industry executives said.