The recent demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has affected people in more ways than one could have imagined. Take for instance the clientele at high-end designer stores in Hyderabad; they are accustomed to buying their favourite Gaurang Shah or Manish Malhotra or Anamika Khanna outfits — that cost anything between Rs 1.5 and Rs 7 lakh. Now, will most of them with a spending limit on their credit and debit cards, be able to splurge on designer and couture wear anymore?
Not everyone likes the idea of writing out a cheque, unless it’s a huge buy for a wedding trousseau. And stores, unless they know the customer well, won’t give you the dress until money is deposited.
In a dilemma
Rumour has it that many customers have been requesting boutiques to accept their Rs 20-30 lakh in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes, and issue them credit notes, which they can use to shop throughout the year. Many stores refused as they have their own problems — how will they account for so much of money, all of a sudden?
Reportedly, word spread that Bottega Veneta was issuing gift vouchers to customers on day one. When a socialite called them on day two, they said they stopped doing so. “I wanted the latest bag, but now I can’t buy it,” she said.
Store owners say the designers will have to rethink on the strategy because people’s spending power will come down. Almost 60 per cent of the customers are cash-n-carry.
Many store owners say that they have not even made a single sale since Wednesday.
Gaurang Shah, Designer
There has been no business since the ban. Customers usually pay by cash and they don’t have any! A few customers have requested to pay lakhs in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and asked us for credit notes... but how will we account the money? We clearly said no. It has not just affected my designer collection, but my sari stores too have been absolutely empty. I’m not expecting any business for another three-four months. However, I’m not thinking of bringing the prices down, but will wait for the situation to get better.
Kamini Saraf, owner of Angasutra
People have been coming to check out the collection but there have been no sales since Wednesday. They asked if we can issue credit notes... but we store-owners can’t show so much of sales in such a short time. We have declined such requests. There was a customer who purchased a `1.90 lakh lehenga, and paid us Rs 40,000. She said she’d pay the rest in cheque. So we are okay with such payments. I have brought down prices of certain stock at the boutique today and the sales have improved. We can only wait and watch.
Rajeev and Smita Shroff, owners of Elahe boutique
We are accepting only credit cards and cheques. We’ve always had a percentage of customers who buy through credit cards and cheques, and they have been making purchases. But yes, we haven’t made any sales through cash.
The city’s richie rich ladies love to talk about their designer wear. Barely do you finish saying, “Hey, your outfit looks nice...” and pat comes the reply, “It’s a Patan Patola from Gaurang... was very expensive but I loved it...”, or “I picked it up from Elahe, they just got a new collection.”
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