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Consumer sentiment is slowly shifting to cautious optimism

The BCG survey also said that there was an uptick in mobility, with people stepping out of their homes, albeit for small tasks, despite an increase in the case load. However, it does not match pre-covid levels. (HT)Premium
The BCG survey also said that there was an uptick in mobility, with people stepping out of their homes, albeit for small tasks, despite an increase in the case load. However, it does not match pre-covid levels. (HT)

  • While Deloitte found people less anxious about the pandemic, BCG saw improved spending outlook
  • BCG says consumers are beginning to feel that they need to resume their activities

NEW DELHI : Sentiment and anxiety around coronavirus have begun to ease nearly five months after India imposed a nationwide lockdown to tackle the covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in millions of job losses and plummeting consumer demand, according to two separate reports by Deloitte and Boston Consulting Group.

On Monday, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said more than 3,000 urban consumers interviewed in its fifth survey between 20 July and 2 August showed improved sentiments on income and spending outlook. Deloitte said households were marginally less anxious about the state of the pandemic and its impact on their lives in the first week of August.

“The overarching theme emerging from the latest survey is one of cautious living with consumers beginning to feel it is time that they resume their activities, albeit with a lot of caution," BCG said.

Economic uncertainty that gripped most households during India’s lockdown seems to be gradually easing as the economy opens up and job prospects improve.

The percentage of consumers expecting lower income reduced from 57% to 44% in BCG’s latest consumer survey, which tracked consumer sentiment to the virus. Moreover, those planning to reduce their spending also fell from 53% to 42%. However, the mood remains sombre, with India breaching the 50,000 deaths mark, following a surge in covid cases on an almost daily basis. India has reported more than 2.6 million cases and is the third-worst affected country globally.

The surveys come at a time, when global economies are facing an unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic. Closer home, it isn’t any different. India’s gross domestic product growth is expected to contract in fiscal 2021 because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, Reserve Bank of India’s governor said earlier this month.

BCG’s survey also said that there was an increase in mobility, with people stepping out of their homes, albeit for small tasks, despite an increase in the case load. However, it does not match pre-covid levels as several cities are still adhering to strict rules and offices, public transport and public entertainment spaces being only partially accessible.

“There is also a pickup in routine activities with 53% consumers stating that they have been going out to work and 66% consumers saying that they have been visiting friends in the latest round against 15% and 10% respectively in the last round," it noted. This was BCG’s fifth consumer sentiment survey since March.

In mid-April, 41% of those surveyed by Deloitte had reported anxiety around finances, health, spending and mobility. In its survey conducted on 4-8 August, it was down to 36%.

Despite improved sentiments, Indians continue to be the most anxious among 18 countries tracked by Deloitte in its “State of the Consumer Tracker" survey conducted every two weeks. Indians still remain anxious about their health and finances, while their ranking has moved a notch lower in the matrix.

“Since we started the survey from 19 April, till the 9th round, till 8 August, the Indian consumer has been an outlier as far as the global anxiety index is concerned. When we started, 41% of consumers were showing high anxiety. This has moved five percentage points down. This shows the consumer is gradually becoming less anxious compared to when the pandemic broke out. That’s a positive," said Porus Doctor, partner and consumer industry leader, Deloitte India.

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