As part of its measures to boost two flagging sectors of the economy, exports and housing, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Saturday announced an annual “mega shopping festival” in four cities by March 2020.
While exporters are optimistic about the trade prospects of such a shopping festival, some say India will have to ensure it is able to compete with the likes of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong if it plans to become the preferred shopping destination of tourists and this can only be done if the festival offers a mix of global and indigenous products, instead of sticking solely to products made in India.
The festival is expected to follow the model of Dubai’s annual shopping festival, which is famous for heavy discounts offered by retailers in the city on popular brands across sectors. However, India’s own mega shopping festival will have different themes in each of the four cities and is expected to focus on sectors like gems and jewellery, yoga, tourism and textiles and leather. The cities hosting the festival are expected to be finalised by the Commerce Ministry.
Through this festival, the Centre plans to give a booster shot to exports of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which is expected to be a potential showcase of the products that India has to offer in the specified themes. The government expects a “mass on-boarding” of artisans across the country as a result.
FIEO president Sharad Kumar Saraf said such mega shopping festivals will not only boost exports but also help in creating value for “Brand India products from labour-intensive sectors”.
Meanwhile, analysts emphasised the need to promote the festival as a mix of the local and global, adding that the government will have to ensure it can compete with other destinations on the low or no-duty structures they offer on such products.
“If the shopping festival is entirely domestic (in terms of the products offered), it is unlikely that it will be a hit. If you want to make it the destination for South East Asia, you can’t do so when you have Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai a few hours’ journey away and selling global products. You have to have global products in the mix,” said Devendra Kumar Pant, chief economist, India Ratings.
“Dubai is a free port (a region with less strict customs regulations), and if we are looking at competing with it, we will have to compete both on products and duty structures,” he told The Indian Express. At the same time, the festival could generate more employment and sectors like hospitality and transport are expected to benefit as a result of the tourists expected.