Home >Industry >Retail >Demand for essentials up as curfews extended

With curfews returning in various parts of the country, demand for pulses, flour, snacks, frozen foods, milk products, baby foods, hygiene products such as floor cleaners and repellents returned, retailers and fast-moving consumer goods companies said.

With the country’s covid curve on a steady rise, the focus is once again back on supply of essentials.

Arvind Mediratta, CEO and MD, Metro Cash and Carry India said the retailer has witnessed anxiety buying in the previous weeks. Overall, the retailer has witnessed a surge for in-home consumption for processed food, ready-to-eat and deep-frozen categories.

In Delhi’s Sarita Vihar, Vikas Bhagwani, owner of Vikas Morning Store reported some instance of panic buying over the weekend. “Supplies are still intact, distributors have come today to take orders, let’s see if we can get stocks on time as Delhi has just moved into a lockdown," Bhagwani said, referring to the Monday order where the state government announced a week-long lockdown prompting shoppers to stock up. The lockdown will, however, allow movement of essential items.

Samarth Agarwal, CEO, MaxWholesale, a B2B inventory platform, too said there was “some level of panic buying going on today, where people are coming to the kirana stores," he said. Max works with 30,000 retailers in Delhi and Chandigarh. “The footfall is high and people are buying essentials—pulses, snacks, baby products, home cleaning and hygiene products. But pantry-loading by customers isn’t like last year," he said.

On Monday, online grocery retailer Grofers saw its orders more than double across Delhi. Over the last few weeks, Grofers has reported a significant surge in demand in categories such as packaged foods such as ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook— by up to 80%, frozen foods up to 500%, and packaged milk, and milk products by 150%. “Additionally, we have witnessed a surge in demand for hygiene products like, repellents --- up to 100% and floor cleaners and disinfectants, up to 50%," said a company spokesperson.

Categories like vegetable washes have seen a 42% growth in sales, the highest in the last year. “We have seen a surge in demand starting mid-February. As of now, there is a 80% surge in orders in Mumbai, and a 40% surge in Pune. We are also seeing similar trends in cities where restrictions were announced recently," the company spokesperson added.

Retailers Mint spoke to said that instead of buying for two months in advance, consumers are buying groceries for 15 days.

“We checked for sales push indicators from brands during the last week of Mar-21 and first two weeks of April to see if there were any changes from what we've seen before. Here we saw an overall increase of 13.2% above the weekly average in sales for overall FMCG. This was particularly high for home-care that reported a 36% increase over average weekly sales, personal care reported a 35% increase over average weekly sales. However, this is in line with the kind of month-end spike you see for these categories," said Akshay D’Souza chief marketing officer, Bizom, a retail intelligence platform.

“Uptick in stocks is more in foods than in non-foods by retailers . Customers are also likely to stock up Foods (staples ) more than other products," said Anil Chugh, President, Consumer Care Business, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting.

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