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To spend, or not to spend?
Fri, 31 Oct Pre-Open

The crescendo of positive sentiment in India has been building since the new government was elected with an overwhelming majority. 'Good days lie ahead!' appealed Narendra Modi. And sure enough, a virtuous cycle of optimism begetting more optimism has since been sustaining itself.

The stock market has also readily followed this pattern. Just yesterday, the BSE-Sensex scaled yet another high.

But has the Indian consumer started feeling confident enough yet to go out and loosen his purse strings? That, after all, is one of the most important questions businesses out there are anxiously awaiting an answer for.

The answer to that is somewhat of a mixed bag; bitter sweet even.

On the positive side, as per a survey by market research firm Nielsen, India has topped in terms of consumer confidence during the three months to September 2014. Considering that the survey covered 30,000 respondents across 60 markets in the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and North America, the picture looks good indeed as far as the average Indian consumer is concerned.

But is this confidence translating into spending?

And this is where things begin to look a little iffy. As their survey indicates, only about 59% of the respondents polled said it was a good time to buy the things they wanted. Somewhat worryingly, this is a 1 percentage point drop from the preceding June quarter. So is the euphoria around the new government waning?

Many businesses, especially retail consumer oriented, surely think so. A Mint report indicates there while there may be bullishness in terms of sentiment in the marketplace, consumers are still being fairly reluctant when it comes to actual spending.

Spending during the festive season surrounding Diwali too was subdued, it points out.

The only ones who have been very successful in luring the currently reticent Indian consumer are the e-commerce firms. That too seems to have become possible only with the temptation of humungous discounts, the likes of which have meant disaster for their own bottom lines.

When the currently prevailing 'positive sentiment' is going to translate into wholehearted spending by consumers is anyone's guess.

In the meanwhile, Indian businesses continue to await such a time with bated breath.

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Feb 23, 2018 (Close)