In the absence of a vaccine to Covid-19, health authorities have advised people to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizers.
To be sure, hand sanitizers and hand washes, unlike soaps are still a small category within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. As a result, general trade stores and pharmacies don’t overstock such products.
“There is a lot of panic since the Delhi case has emerged," said Amit Gupta, who works at the Gupta Brothers Chemist in central Delhi. He said the store has lost count of the number of bottles of sanitizers sold, adding: “Distributors are not being able to give the stock."
Masks typically see a surge during Delhi’s pollution spurts in October-November. “We still have those as of now," Gupta added.
“Sanitizers and hand washes are a very small category, at least the branded ones. But today, if you see their demand, it’s up almost five-fold; so companies don’t have so much stock, plus export demand has been going up," Dhairyashil Patil, national president at the All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation (AICPDF) said.
FMCG companies said they continue to put sufficient products out in the market.
“There is adequate supply of Savlon hand washes, soaps, antiseptic liquids and sanitizers in the market," said Sameer Satpathy, divisional chief executive, personal care products business, ITC Ltd.
“Starting mid-Jan, there has been a rise in demand for our products. However, since yesterday, it has spiked some 400%," said Vikas Bagaria, founder and managing director of PeeSafe that sells hygiene products including masks and alcohol-free hand sanitisers.
A spokesperson for Hindustan Unilever said there’s “a heightened need" for hygiene products at the moment, adding: “We have adequate stock of hand sanitizers and hand-wash soap and are geared to meet the increased demand for our products."