The president of the of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) has told just-style that falling demand from United States and Europe means Indian garment exporters must explore domestic markets for new sales.

"For some companies it is a matter of survival, while for the others it is to achieve growth," said president Rahul Mehta, adding: "I see few other options for them but to try and enter the domestic market."

Mehta's own company the Creative Group, which has annual sales of US$120m and exports to 60 countries, has already shifted some focus towards local consumers.

"Eight years ago we had barely 5% of domestic sales but today it is almost 35% and we are busy building up our own brands," he told just-style. He stressed that India has a huge market and large portions have yet to be tapped.

According to India's ministry of commerce, between April and November 2012 the country's textile and clothing exports declined 8.19% compared with the same period the previous year to US$18.6bn.

However, Mehta warns that such a change would not be easy for many exporters, who have relied on being purely manufacturing companies who do not understand marketing.

And Mehta said that although the fall in exports is disturbing, it is not unexpected. "It is inevitable that Western buyers will look for cheaper options and countries like Bangladesh offer attractive alternatives," he said.