COVID-19 Lockdown Impact

Availability of essential goods sees improvement but 47% still unable to get essentials via ecommerce platforms


  • • Percentage of consumers unable to find essentials via ‘local retail stores’ reduces to 30%

April 7, 2020, New Delhi: During the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequently the 21-day lock down, LocalCircles has been regularly tracking the availability of essential goods in retail stores, as well as on ecommerce platforms. The 6th survey on this was conducted between April 5-6 and shows some improvement in the availability of essential goods at retail stores and via ecommerce platforms.

The availability of essential goods has been a big concern raised on LocalCircles by consumers from across the country over the past 17 days. LocalCircles has been regularly tracking the on-ground changes that have taken place in the availability/non-availability of essential goods in retail stores, as well as on ecommerce platforms, and is regularly being escalated to Central Government and State Governments.

The essential goods survey for April 5-6 had indicated that 47% of those who ordered essential goods via an ecommerce app could not get them and 30% of those who went to local retail stores could not get most of the essential goods they wanted. To continue tracking the situation, LocalCircles conducted the 6th consumer survey between April 5-6, which received 17,000+ responses from consumers located in 180 districts of India.

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 53% consumers were able to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 53% consumers were able 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. 36% said they were able to get most items while 7% said they were able to get only some items as online stores were stocked out for others. 20% said they were not able to get most items while 28% said they were not able to get anything. Only 9% said they were able to get everything easily.

On the ecommerce platform front, the availability of essential goods has stayed staggered but seems to have improved as well in the last 6 days. On March 30-31, 45% of the consumers were reportedly able to find majority of the essential goods via ecommerce apps. This number has gone up to 53% as on 5-6 April, compared to 21% consumers who were able to find them on March 23-24. Prior to the Junta Curfew on March 22nd, the number stood at 65%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increases from 45% to 53%

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increases from 45% to 53%

The reverse plotting also shows that the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products via ecommerce apps is showing slow improvement and 47% consumers still could not find their essentials in the last 2 days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 55% to 47%

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 55% to 47%

Consumers have reported an increase in availability of delivery slots on ecommerce platforms and in the last one week, most platforms have resumed deliveries. While currently only essential goods and goods in the grocery category are available, the last-minute order cancellation has also been minimised as reported by consumers. The key ask that consumers have now is the ability to place orders for products that aren’t necessary classified as essential commodities but needed in routine living. For example: with online classes starting up in schools across India, parents have highlighted the need to buy computing equipment, router, printer etc. so their children can get connected to these classes. Currently, these products cannot be procured from the local retailer nor any ecommerce platform. A detailed report in this regard has been prepared by LocalCircles separately.

Consumers were also asked when they tried to purchase essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from a local retail store during the last 48 hours, what was their experience like. 27% said they were able to get everything easily while 35% said they were able to get most items except a few. 21% said they were able to get only some items as stores were stocked out for others and 13% said they were not able to get most of the items. 4% said they were not able to get anything.

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 70% consumers were able to find most essential goods in their local retail stores

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 70% consumers were able to find most essential goods in their local retail stores

On the local retail stores front, the availability of essential goods has somewhat improved in the last six days. On March 30-31, 62% of the consumers were reportedly able to find essential goods at local retail stores. This number has gone up quite a bit and stands at 70% as on 5-6 April, compared to 57% consumers who were able to find them on March 25-26. On March 23-24, the number stood at 68% while on March 20-22, i.e. prior to the Junta Curfew, the number stood at 83%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 62% to 70%

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 62% to 70%

The reverse plotting of retail stores shows a trend similar to that of ecommerce apps, where the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products is showing improvement and has reduced from 38% to 30% in the last 6 days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces from 38% to 30%

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces from 38% to 30%

For both retailers and ecommerce platforms, finding workers for warehousing, store operations as well as delivery continues to be a challenge negatively impacting their capacity and ability to service consumers. A solution must be found by the platforms with support from industry associations such that workers redundant in other industries can be redeployed.

LocalCircles will be submitting the findings of this report to various stakeholders in the Central Government and State Governments requesting them to take actions highlighted in this report and drive further improvement in availability of essential goods via retail stores and ecommerce platforms.

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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