Retail Reset. The clock strikes midnight, suddenly you hear drum beats, music and loud shouts of joy and exultation with people dancing on streets welcoming their beloved Bappa to their homes with new faith, new hope and renewed energy. The excitement is so contagious that one feels the spirit of optimism and happiness in the air. Gajanan’s arrival is celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm annually. But unlike others 2020 is definitely a discrete year. Though this year Ganpati bappa would be greeted with austerity yet uncountable believers would welcome him whole heartedly with double the fervor and ardor asking for a common blessing- to take away all the negativities, depression, gloom and misery along caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.The pandemic has fundamentally changed the world, the lifestyle of people has altered including their thought procedure and so has the attitude, purchasing habits and buying behavior of consumers. Would the festive season ignite the spark to go shopping, as it’s more of a conscious effort now to keep health and safety as utmost priority? Purchases are currently centered on the most basic needs keeping in mind the hash tag vocal for local with digital shopping in vogue. Buying healthcare products is of prime importance now and non-essential goods like apparel, make-up, fashion jewelry and footwear have faced a slump. Shopping is more of a mindful and conscious effort.Ganesh Chaturthi marks the onset of festivities and celebrations in India. Festive season is all about splurging and celebrating. But this year, falling incomes coupled with low optimism about the economy has put a full stop on the endless shopping list. Being aware of the deep social and economic impact of the pandemic, consumers are mindful about their extravaganza. Shopping is indeed a luxury and a privilege now. It’s not about going leisurely out for window shopping and ending up buying unnecessary stuff. Shopping is a planned affair currently with a concrete list of only indispensable stuff. Though full precautions are being taken at public places like the entrance of parking lots, malls and stores are equipped with sanitizing booths, temperature check, limited people allowed at a time etc yet it is an individual’s conscious effort that would make the difference. Some pointers to keep in mind:Avoid being carefree and careless, one small negligence may cost you your health.Over confidence is dangerous so don’t forget to wear a mask while going out, make sure mask is comfortable and protective.Carry hand gloves for safety.Keep a handy sanitizer along in case you need to sanitize.Practice cashless transactions.Carry your own shopping bags.Make social distancing the motto of your life.Prepare a shopping list, allot a time duration and stick to the plan, no panic buying.Avoid anxiety and trepidation when outdoor, stay cautious and prudent.Coronavirus has affected the global fashion industry impacting fashion brands worldwide. Retailers are trying to sail with the wind. Lockdown has resulted in a huge shift in consumer behavior; designer and casual garments are replaced by casual and comfortable clothes. Face masks are the new fashion statement born out of necessity. In the wake of the economic slowdown due to the pandemic, the Haute couture brands shifted their focus on manufacturing non-surgical three layered reusable masks to keep their brand alive. More than a protective gear mask is a fashion accessory now. The market is brimming with stylish masks with eccentric prints, sparkling embellishments, elegant embroideries, hand-painted designs, cartoon prints, sequined, quotes and what not. Readymade or custom-made masks are easily available now in markets. Selfies are no more about pouts, but all about that fashionable fabric covering the nose and mouth.2020 is the year of online shopping. There has been a rapid growth in online shopping across categories during the pandemic globally. There were many consumers who ordered their groceries online for the first time and are continuing the practice for safety purposes. People are shifting to digital solutions for reduced contacts spending more on essentials and less on discretionary categories. Online shopping is actually very alluring with great bargains, wide range of products, great deals and easy returns. Shopping is easy and convenient and especially during this pandemic where going out puts you at risk, online shopping is a savior. But every rose has a thorn, online shopping also puts you at a risk of online fraud. So it’s all about understanding cyber security guidelines to stay safe and secure. Just follow some basic recommendations to help you shop confidently.Browse through familiar websites, never buy anything online using your card from a site that doesn’t have SSL( secure sockets layer), you will know if the site has SSL because the URL will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP, try it out with our well know website AMAZON, never share your personal details online, check your statements regularly don’t wait for your bills, always create strong and unique passwords and don’t share it with anyone, always check the seller- their address and a working phone number, inquire before if in doubt and if still misfortune befalls take the help of consumer forum. But try and stay alert and cautious to avoid mishaps.Virtual reality would be trending in the near future. The future of fashion and shopping would rotate around natural, durable, bio-degradable and sustainable products. A great online experience is all what companies and brands need to focus on. Digital shopping would be revolutionized to give consumers a better shopping experience which is safer and more convenient. The new normal would witness a revolution of the digital era, technologically advanced apps, enhanced software, virtual shopping stores, virtual models for perfect fittings, even virtual salesperson for customized shopping experience etc. Offline shopping would be a second choice and will remain so for an unprecedented time. Don’t forget, this will not be forever, times will change, life will bounce back to its routine which would definitely be an improved and upgraded one.Remember, ‘Change is the only constant’.Akanksha Datta

This article got published in TIMES OF INDIA

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