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Consumer durables such as washing machines, refrigerators and microwave ovens were earlier placed under the 28% tax slab, which was recently reduced to 18%. Photo: Bloomberg
Consumer durables such as washing machines, refrigerators and microwave ovens were earlier placed under the 28% tax slab, which was recently reduced to 18%. Photo: Bloomberg

Convenience drove sales of white goods during lockdown

Electronics retailers saw a 15-18% sales jump in the 30 days before Diwali compared to the year-ago period

Convenience was the overarching theme for the purchase of household appliances for several months, thus prompting shoppers in India to buy more front-load washing machines, food processors, microwave ovens and larger refrigerators, according to market researcher GfK, which tracked consumption of white goods between June and September.

There has been growth in categories such as microwaves, washing machines, food processors, laptops and tablets over the year-ago period, suggests data from GfK before, during and after the lockdown. Cooling devices and air conditioners, however, suffered as the lockdown during peak summer wiped out consumer access to stores.

From June to September, sale of washing machines grew 5.6% in volume over the year-ago period, while microwave ovens reported a 21.4% growth. Demand for shavers also went up as the category recorded volume growth of 18.8%, while food processors grew 8.6%. Volume growth for mobile computing or laptops stood at 22%, GfK said.

The numbers are encouraging for some of the categories, especially microwaves that grew 1.5% in the 2019 calendar year and tablets that were down 24% in 2019. Between April and May, most categories reported huge losses, as the lockdown crippled retail trade. A pent-up demand, however, helped companies report some sales growth.

“A lot of changes happened in the whole lifestyle of consumers during the lockdown. Around 60% of the people said they want products, solutions and services that make their life simple at home. I think a few products became quite important in their entire purchase hierarchy, including things such as washing machines and kitchen appliances," said Nikhil Mathur, managing director, India, GfK.

Electronics retailers reported a 15-18% jump in the 30-day period before Diwali compared to the year-ago period, according to data sourced from the Retailers Association of India.

India’s appliances and consumer electronics industry is estimated at 76,400 crore as of FY19, according to the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association and Frost & Sullivan.

However, the penetration of such categories is still low in India given that affordability and access metrics for several middle-income households are still a barrier for purchase for a range of white goods.

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