India started unlocking its economy in phases beginning 8 June, allowing more economic activities to restart
Google data set indicates that stepping out for essentials such as groceries and pharmacies have touched pre-covid-19 level
NEW DELHI: India’s economic activity seems to be gradually nearing pre-lockdown levels, the latest Google data showing an uptick in mobility trends suggests.
According to the Google Covid-19 Community Mobility report that maps mobility trends across six location types — retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, transport hubs, parks, workplaces, residential areas — there has been a gradual improvement in activity levels from 1 June. India started unlocking its economy in phases beginning 8 June, allowing more economic activities to restart.
Barring residential areas, mobility had nosedived, when India imposed the world’s longest and strictest lockdown stating 25 March.
Mint reported on 5 June that traffic congestion, power generation, port activity, vehicle registration and other high-frequency data point to the economy perking up as India reopens, recovering from a devastating slump as factories went idle and people were ordered to stay at home amid the pandemic.
The Google data set indicates that stepping out for essential services such as groceries and pharmacies have touched pre-covid-19 level. This adds heft to the finance ministry’s view that ‘green shoots’ of revival have emerged with the gradual opening up of the economy, with crucial economic parameters such as fuel and electricity consumption, mobility and retail financial transactions making a comeback.
Also, India’s petroleum product consumption has sharply recovered from the lowest slump recorded since 2007, after the world’s longest lockdown ended and reached 88% last month. The demand for bitumen used in road construction has gone up by 32% in June as compared to last year, as road building activity picked up.
India’s power and overall energy demand, which had nosedived, is slowly returning to its pre-lockdown levels. Consumption of energy — especially electricity and refinery products — is a good barometer of level of economic activity in a country.
The Google report also showed that in states that have been the worst hit by the pandemic—Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi—visits to grocery stores and pharmacy has been substantially lower as compared with the national average.
In Delhi, such visits were down 26%, while Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu witnessed a dip of 25% and 22%, respectively, as compared to the baseline. On the other hand, in states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, such activity has surpassed pre-covid levels.
Concerns remain. Having recovered steadily in the beginning of June, parameters such as retail and recreation, transport hubs, parks, workplaces still remained below the ‘baseline’.
This comes at a time when the manufacturing activity appears to have stabilized from historic lows and indirect tax collections perked up in June.