COVID-19 lockdown impact: Percentage of consumers unable to find essential goods at retail stores rises further; availability via ecommerce apps shows slight improvement


  • • Percentage of consumers unable to find essentials via ecommerce apps reduces from 79% to 61%
  • • Percentage of consumers unable to find essentials at local retail stores rises from 32% to 43%

March 27, 2020, New Delhi: Availability of essential goods has been a major concern raised on LocalCircles by consumers across the nation over the last few days. LocalCircles has been tracking and escalating the same with Central Government and State Governments. The root cause has been identified as lack of clear instructions to police and local officials on the ground which has been leading to restrictions on movement of vehicles carrying essential goods and people who are engaged in warehousing, wholesale, retail and home delivery of essential goods.

The report for March 23-24 indicated that 79% of those who ordered essential goods via an ecommerce app could not get them and 32% of those who went to local retail stores could not get most of the essential goods they wanted. To continue tracking these metrics, LocalCircles conducted the 3rd consumer survey on March 25-26. The survey received 16,297 responses from consumers located in 177 districts of India.

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 61% consumers unable to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 61% consumers unable to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps

The first question asked consumers when they placed an order for essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from an eCommerce app during the last 48 hours, how was their experience. 19% said they were able to get most items while 10% said they were able to get only some items as online stores were stocked out for others. 31% said they were not able to get most items while 20% said they were not able to get anything. Only 20% said they were able to get everything easily.

The Government has been working to remove the hurdles in the way of essential supplies reaching consumers. When compared with the data from March 23-24, the percentage of consumers who were unable to find essential goods via an eCommerce app, has reduced from 79% to 61% in the last 2 days. This indicates that 18% more consumers were able to get essential goods via ecommerce apps. Based on feedback from Government and industry players, many local district administrations or local police officials have now issued notifications supporting unrestricted movement of essentials and delivery personnel carrying these essentials. This has led to atleast some of the ecommerce platforms opening order acceptance, however most are still promising long order fulfilment times, as much as one week in many cases.

Percentage of consumers unable to find essential goods via ecommerce apps reduces from 79% to 61% in last 2 days

Percentage of consumers unable to find essential goods via ecommerce apps reduces from 79% to 61% in last 2 days

However, most ecommerce platforms are still reporting lack of clarity on the ground and finding the process of working with local authorities across the country as a cumbersome and time intensive process. Several cases of delivery executives being harassed by the police have also been reported leading to they not being able to reach warehouses and fulfilment centers.

Consumers were also asked when they tried to purchase essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from a retail store during the last 48 hours, what was their experience like. 31% said they were able to get everything easily while 26% said they were able to get most items except a few. 17% said they were able to get only some items as stores were stocked out for others and 18% said they were not able to get most of the items. 8% said they were not able to get anything.

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 43% consumers unable to find most essential goods in their local retail stores

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 43% consumers unable to find most essential goods in their local retail stores

When this is compared to the findings of the survey conducted for March 23-24, the percentage of consumers unable to find essential goods at their local retail stores has deteriorated further and has risen from 32% to 43%. Retailers are reporting confusion on the ground as well and many are approaching the local authorities to get their curfew passes.

Percentage of consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 32% to 43% in last 2 days

Percentage of consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 32% to 43% in last 2 days

Per media reports, many big retail chains like More, DMart, Big Bazar, Metro Cash & Carry etc. have been quoted saying that they are having major issues in running their distribution centers as their staff is unable to reach there. They also said that their stores are running with less than half the staff due to the lockdown. They also said that if this situation continued for another 2-3 days, availability of stock will become a major issue.

Although the numbers with ecommerce have improved a bit, the lack of availability of essential goods via ecommerce and at retail stores is still very concerning as they are indicative of the struggle faced by consumers in finding items of daily needs.

LocalCircles Chairman, Sachin Taparia will once again be writing to Chief Secretaries of all states as well as State DGPs apprising them of the latest findings and the on ground situation requesting them to ensure that trucks carrying essential goods and personnel engaged in warehousing, retail and delivery of the same are not stopped by law enforcement officials during this lockdown. Via this communication, the chief secretaries and DGPs are being requested to provide an exemption from curfew passes to all those engaged in supply, warehousing, retail and delivery of essential goods on the basis of a letter from the ecommerce platform or retail store identifying them with a valid Government identity.

About LocalCircles

LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric. LocalCircles is also India’s # 1 pollster on issues of governance, public and consumer interest. More about LocalCircles can be found on https://www.localcircles.com

Akshay Gupta - media@localcircles.com, +91-8585909866

All content in this report is a copyright of LocalCircles. Any reproduction or redistribution of the graphics or the data therein requires the LocalCircles logo to be carried along with it. In case any violation is observed LocalCircles reserves the right to take legal action.

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