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NEW DELHI: Pandemic-induced lockdowns in India continued to benefit online grocery firms that saw orders surge and led to an expansion of their share of business. In the June quarter, grocery sales via e-commerce touched a “record high", market researcher NielsenIQ said in a quarterly update on the FMCG sector.

When benchmarked to 100 in the pre-covid period or the March quarter of 2020, e-commerce sales in the June quarter of this fiscal were at 134. The measure stood at 96 during the same quarter a year ago. NielsenIQ follows a January to December accounting year.

This year, in metros, with e-tailers focusing on ensuring availability and last mile delivery yielded dividends, it said. The quarter was marked with a more intense wave of covid-19 infections.

As a result, contribution of sales via e-commerce reached a double-digit mark for several companies in May.

“E-commerce contribution to FMCG sales in the Metros (top 52 cities) reached a double-digit mark in the month of May 2021. The channel’s growth trajectory continues to hold promise in light of the convenience quotient led by e-tailers' action and evolving consumer aspirations" said Sameer Shukla, Customer Success Lead, NielsenIQ South Asia.

For Marico Ltd., for instance, share of sales via e-commerce grew to touch 9%; for Hindustan Unilever Ltd., it was at 6%.

However, as markets have opened up, shoppers have been returning to stores. With more Indians getting vaccinated, mobility has been improving too.

NielsenIQ said modern trade is still in the “recovery phase" when benchmarked to pre-covid period.

“In fact, had it not been for the second wave and the delay in pick up from certain baskets particularly in the non-food space, modern trade would have continued to move along the upward trajectory and reached an index of 92 and beyond between January-March and April to June of 2021," the researcher said.

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