Euromon­i­tor Re­port on Re­tail For­mats in Kolkata

Kolkata is of­ten re­ferred to as the ‘City of Joy’. Due to its strong cul­tural her­itage its cit­i­zens have an affin­ity for indige­nous ma­te­ri­als such as cot­ton and khadi, thereby cre­at­ing a strong mar­ket for home­grown stores. The mall cul­ture in the city is

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By Surabhi Khosla


Mostly lo­cals are a mix of Ben­galis and Mar­waris.

The city is also pop­u­lated by im­mi­grants from nearby states such as Bi­har, Assam, Orissa, and all the North­east­ern states. Eco­nom­i­cally, the city’s de­vel­op­ment is not at par with Delhi, Mum­bai or Chen­nai, which re­sults in lim­ited job op­por­tu­ni­ties and lower per capita in­come. This re­sults in peo­ple pre­fer­ring high streets and home­grown play­ers.

Peo­ple in Kolkata con­tinue to pre­fer tra­di­tional cloth­ing styles and ma­te­ri­als. There is a strong and in­her­ent pres­ence of cul­tural el­e­ments in the way the peo­ple in Kolkata dress. As a re­sult, the city still houses a num­ber of home­grown shops cater­ing to such re­quire­ments.


Specif­i­cally, in Kolkata, high street shop­ping hubs en­joy dom­i­nance. Peo­ple in the city have pre-de­ter­mined shop­ping des­ti­na­tions that are sit­u­ated in cer­tain ar­eas of the city. In ad­di­tion, with many shops present in these ar­eas, peo­ple are spoilt for choice in terms of prod­uct of­fer­ings. Kolkata also has strong pres­ence of state em­po­ri­ums, which re­main the key re­tail for­mat for con­sumers to shop.

Sep­a­rately, the mall cul­ture is a new phe­nom­e­non and is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity. Kolkata was one of the ear­li­est In­dian cities to have in­tro­duced the con­cept of malls. Malls are now act­ing as a gate­way for premium play­ers such rather than tra­di­tional shop­ping des­ti­na­tions.

Mean­while, the city’s pop­u­la­tion has not en­tirely adopted the idea of pur­chas­ing prod­ucts via the on­line chan­nel. With small in­de­pen­dent stores pro­vid­ing con­sumers with a vast va­ri­ety of prod­ucts at af­ford­able prices, there is no price ben­e­fit for con­sumers to shop on­line for their needs.

Home­grown Stores & Em­po­ri­ums Re­main Pop­u­lar

As men­tioned above, Kolkata re­mains one of the few cities which boasts a strong cul­tural her­itage in terms of cloth­ing. As a re­sult, tra­di­tional cloth­ing such as sa­rees, sal­war

kameez, dhoti and kurta play an in­te­gral part across all age groups. Tra­di­tional cloth­ing also con­tin­ues to be com­mon dur­ing wed­dings and the fes­tive sea­son.

Given the strong cul­tural roots, indige­nous ma­te­ri­als

(khadi, cot­ton and silk) in tra­di­tional cloth­ing is pop­u­lar. Ad­di­tion­ally,be­cause of the hot and hu­mid weather con­di­tions of the city, con­sumers pre­fer hand­wo­ven light ma­te­ri­als such as cot­ton and khadi. Ar­eas such as Dak­shi­na­pan and Burra Bazaar are some of the best-known places that of­fer such cloth­ing, us­ing dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als. For in­stance, Dak­shi­na­pan is a gov­ern­ment-aided shop­ping com­plex which houses em­po­ri­ums of­fer­ing prod­ucts from dif­fer­ent states, of­fer­ing in­ex­pen­sive yet good-qual­ity items.

High Street Shop­ping Hubs En­joy Dom­i­nance

Peo­ple in the city com­monly pre­fer shop­ping in high street shop­ping hubs rather than the malls. For non­gro­cery shop­ping, mid­dlein­come con­sumers opt for street shop­ping in pop­u­lar shop­ping ar­eas such as Hat­i­ba­gan, Es­planade and Gari­a­hat mar­ket. Sim­i­larly, Col­lege Street is dot­ted with nu­mer­ous book stores and small kiosks sell­ing a va­ri­ety of new and sec­ond-hand books. For gro­cery shop­ping, Ko­ley mar­ket lo­cated in the cen­tre of the city re­mains one of the pop­u­lar hubs for whole­sale and re­tail gro­cery shop­ping. Other pop­u­lar gro­cery shop­ping des­ti­na­tions in­clude Manikata and Mech­hua mar­kets.

Lo­cal Re­tail For­mats Are Very Pop­u­lar

Due to the wide va­ri­ety of of­fer­ings of­fered by street ven­dors, street food re­mains highly pop­u­lar in the city. Ar­eas such as Es­planade and Vivekananda Park are some of the best-known places in the city for street food. In ad­di­tion, peo­ple in the city also pre­fer buy­ing dif­fer­ent cos­metic and jew­ellery prod­ucts from these lo­cal street ven­dors as it is very rea­son­able. Ar­eas such as Gari­a­hat and Hat­i­ba­gan are some of the pop­u­lar places for shop­ping jew­ellery and cos­metic prod­ucts.

Kolkata is also ro­bust in terms of whole­sal­ing. Lo­cated in dif­fer­ent hyper­local zones, whole­sale mar­kets sell a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts, from gro­cery to non-gro­cery items. Places such as these are wide­spread across the city, thereby pro­vid­ing con­sumers with easy ac­cess to mar­kets where they can buy dif­fer­ent prod­ucts at whole­sale rates. These whole­salers assem­ble at des­ig­nated ar­eas on a weekly or daily ba­sis and meet with re­tail­ers to sell their prod­ucts. Such ar­eas are pop­u­larly known as haats.

The Mall Phe­nom­e­non

Malls are now gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity among high­er­in­come con­sumers who are look­ing for branded of­fer­ings. Many premium la­bels, such as Michael Kors and Burberry, are en­ter­ing the city through malls such as Quest, thereby cre­at­ing out­lets for high­er­in­come con­sumers. A sim­i­lar trend has also been seen in the case of in­ter­na­tional bars, restau­rants and pubs open­ing their doors in the city, op­er­at­ing in malls.

Multi-brand out­lets are much more pop­u­lar than sin­gle brand re­tail out­lets in the city. This is largely due to the fact that these out­lets of­fer a va­ri­ety of home-grown and in­ter­na­tional brands, al­low­ing cus­tomers to choose from a wide and di­verse range of prod­ucts. Multi-brand out­lets such as Pan­taloons, West­side and Brand Fac­tory, which house a num­ber of brands at dif­fer­ent price points, are more pop­u­lar amongst brand-con­scious con­sumers who are also look­ing for eco­nom­i­cal op­tions.

It has been seen that multi­brand out­lets like Pan­taloons, West­side and Brand Fac­tory en­joy more pop­u­lar­ity than sin­gle re­tail out­lets such as Reebok or Van Heusen. With lim­ited bud­gets, con­sumers opt to visit multi-brand re­tail­ers, as they can check out dif­fer­ent of­fer­ings and com­pare prices across brands be­fore buy­ing prod­ucts. In ad­di­tion, multi-brand out­lets run year-round sales and also of­fer a va­ri­ety of sea­sonal dis­counts, which fur­ther in­creases the foot­fall.

In con­clu­sion, tra­di­tional shop­ping zones such as Es­planade, Maidan, Chandni Chowk and Burra Bazaar are the ma­jor shop­ping des­ti­na­tions for con­sumers and will con­tinue to at­tract high foot­fall as cus­tomers seek op­tions at rea­son­able rates. Peo­ple in the city also like to in­dulge in bar­gain­ing, which fur­ther in­creases foot­fall in these shop­ping zones.

The home-grown out­lets in the city en­joy high pop­u­lar­ity among con­sumers as they of­fer dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of indige­nous ma­te­ri­als at rea­son­able rates. Peo­ple in the city are quite tra­di­tional in their shop­ping tastes, and hence pre­fer to shop in these out­lets. Malls are mostly lim­ited to buy­ing branded prod­ucts dur­ing sea­sonal sales.

Roop_dey /

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