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Yeh dil mange lots more

Yeh dil mange

NEW-AGE BUT... Even as the market sees a spending frenzy on high-tech goods and holidays abroad as Deepavali gifts, some of the gentle traditions of the festival linger on

NEW-AGE BUT... Even as the market sees a spending frenzy on high-tech goods and holidays abroad as Deepavali gifts, some of the gentle traditions of the festival linger on  

Shubh Laabh. Festival of lights. Dhanteras. Deepavali. Discount. Dasara-Diwali Super Sale. Only till month-end. Buy now. Exchange offer. Buy one take one free. Shop for Rs. 2,500 and win a Mercedes. Clearance sale.

Mind-blowing, don't you think? Or are you too busy shopping to stop and ponder over this, lest the discount offer expires. We're not being mean here. Just being friendly fellow consumerists.

The pervasiveness of commercialisation dazzles the eye and freezes the brain. Even so, old traditions linger on. Lighting the diyas around the house, the traditional oil bath, prayers to the Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, making sweets, bursting crackers...

October is really a month when traders and retailers must rejoice. Buying frenzy takes a quantum leap. Working people are blessed with bonuses and incentives. "Enjoy" is at the top of the charts. And it's the age of "shopatainment". The splurge index shoots up.

People are buying — or rather "investing" as it's called — making that first down payment on an apartment, buying that gold or platinum choker, pampering themselves with designer clothes and showing off their latest acquisitions: those gorgeous gadgets! Home appliances are also big on the hit list as are the latest SUVs. Now who wouldn't want all that in the age of dil mangey more? Of course there is always that crop of people who will do it their way. But celebrate everyone does.

Govindaraju N.S., President of Skyways, an air-ticketing agency, says many people, especially bureaucrats, take off just before the festive season for some serious shopping in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

"People cash in on the promotional airfare offers in the pre-festival off-season to especially go to places such as Bangkok just to shop — for clothes and latest handsets." A 12-day combination trip across three countries with the best of accommodation could cost on an average of Rs. 52,000 per head. Travel Corporation (India) has launched special packages this Deepavali for those who want to celebrate amidst tropical landscapes, and on white sand beaches.

Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, a Disneyland package in Hong Kong to cheer up the kids, exotic Macau, Dubai, exotic Egypt with a cruise down the Nile. Sri Lanka makes for a quick getaway. As does Mauritius. And if you are feeling generous in the festive spirit, gift a holiday to your kids or parents with a TCI Giftcheque.

The season of plenty tempts one to stock and store. Anmol Gill, a 24-year-old MBA student, says this is the time to hit the malls for some clothes shopping. Bennetton, Scullers and Allen Solly's discount during this time is what she watches out for. "I'll be graduating and we're expected to wear formals.

Three-piece suits come at 50 per cent off and this lets me buy two pairs instead of one." She estimates she'll be spending around Rs. 12,000 on her clothes this season. "Of course, we all set out budgeting the buys but things definitely go out of control!" As for gold, her mum buys jewellery for her every year on Deepavali anyway.

Thirty one-year-old visualiser Sudhanshu S.R. is going to be in Paris this Deepavali. Before your eyes start to water, Sudhanshu hastily clarifies it's on work. "I usually take off on my bike with friends when we get this break." And then he comes up with what many people are echoing these days: "Of course, there is a Deepavali bonus. But this money doesn't really count. Most of my shopping happens in a planned way, when I want something. I don't find these festival offers to be anything great." For him, it's a time to meet friends and close family and spend some time with them.

Siddharth Spehia has hit the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He just won Rs. 1 lakh for having shopped! The 22-year-old student bought himself three pairs of trousers and a T-shirt. "My friends persuaded me to fill the lucky draw coupon and joked that we'll walk out with the money. I've never won a bumper prize before and neither has anyone around me!" He's already blown up part of the windfall on the latest Nokia handset and is taking off to Ooty for a few days with friends. Then it will be back home to burst firecrackers.

Now we're getting an idea of spending patterns. Rajesh Seth, Senior Manager, Marketing, at a mall, is happy that walk-ins go up by almost 100 per cent in October. Sales shoot up by another 70 per cent over the usual figures. "The magic of the season lies in that even on weekdays people walk in to shop. Jewellery, watches and white goods sales pick up. Bigger purchases such as home theatre systems, projection TVs and big fridges are bought during this period considered auspicious." The average bill a customer makes during this festive season is Rs. 2,500, he adds.

Festivals also mean spending on gifts. And the idea of gifting has changed over the years. Whether a gift for employees or for clients, cookies and chocolates are very in. Since people can't give up the ritual of exchanging sweets, traditional sweet dabbas do the rounds. When one sometimes tires of the monotony, it translates into big business for companies. John Lynch, Chairman, Cookie Man India, says: "Cookies are the preferred gift choice for new-age companies in sectors such as IT, BPOs and insurance. Last year, nationally, we did Rs. 1 crore worth of sales during the season. We expect it to be around Rs. 2.5 crore this year."

Online gifting for friends and relatives in other cities or countries is a popular greeting mode — people send pooja thalis, flowers, crackers, sweets, jewels, and even lamps as festive tokens. There are any number of websites that offer any number of options and combinations.

And so the customer is definitely king. And so are the sellers!

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