Price rise amidst pandemic: 73% households are now spending more on essentials and getting less in comparison to pre COVID-19 times
- • 61% households are currently paying more than Rs. 60/kg for tomatoes, Rs. 30/kg for Potatoes and Rs. 25/kg for onions.
September 11, 2020, New Delhi: This year has seen an extended monsoon season in India resulting in heavy rainfall and large-scale flooding in many parts of the country. The meteorological department has called the monsoon season ‘normal to above normal’ and has said that the country will receive more rainfall in September as the monsoon retreats. The extended rains have brought some bad news for the consumers and there have been reports of vegetable prices rising by as much as 50% in states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Chandigarh etc.
LocalCircles conducted a survey to understand how people’s experience has been with purchasing essential vegetables, especially onion, potatoes, and tomatoes after consumers reported rising prices over the last couple of weeks. Also, LocalCircles tried to understand if consumers are spending more on essentials and groceries since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The survey received over 15,000 responses from 216 districts of India covering metros to tier 4 districts and rural locations. In the first question, citizens were asked what best describes the per kilogram price that they paid for Tomato, Onion and Potato in their latest purchase. In response, 40% said they paid INR 70 or higher for tomatoes, INR 35 or higher for potatoes and INR 30 or higher for onions, while 21% said they paid INR 60-69 for tomatoes, INR 30-34 for potatoes and INR 25-29 for onions. 19% said they paid INR 40-59 for tomatoes, INR 20-29 for potatoes and INR 15-24 for onions, whereas 7% said they paid INR 39 or lower for tomatoes, INR 19 or lower for potatoes and INR 14 or lower for onions. 13% were unsure about what they paid recently.
Price Rise amidst pandemic: 61% households say they are paying more than INR 60/kg for tomato, INR 30/kg for potato & INR 25/kg for onion
This means that 61% households are currently paying more than Rs. 60/kg for tomatoes, Rs. 30/kg for Potatoes and Rs. 25/kg for onions. The main cause of this steep prices rise of vegetables is being attributed to excessive rain, labour shortage and also an increase in transportation cost due to the higher diesel prices. This is specially concerning as many have lost jobs and many others are experiencing a cut in earnings and wages. Per CMIE’s latest data, 21 million jobs have been lost till Aug 31, 2020 from the time the pandemic began. For many, the increase in the prices of essentials is adding up to higher weekly spends.
The next question asked consumers in the last 6 months, how have their monthly household grocery and essentials costs changed. In response 44% said they have been spending more & getting less. 10% said they have been spending same & getting less, 17% said they have been spending same, getting same, while 19% said they have been spending more & getting same. Only 2% said they have been spending less & getting more and another 2% said they have been spending less & getting same.
Price Rise amidst pandemic: 73% households say on monthly essentials/grocery costs they are getting less value for same or more money spent in comparison to pre COVID-19
The result of this poll shows that 73% households are now getting less value for the same or more money spent, in comparison to pre COVID-19 times. Consumers in March and April 2020 had reported being charged higher prices for essentials like vegetables as well as packaged products where some were charged above MRP due to shortages in the markets due to the lockdown and panic buying.
Crop damage due to heavy rains and hoarding are also being suspected as a reason for this sudden price rise in vegetables. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has created a worrisome and uncertain situation for many. Many citizens are already facing reduced household incomes due to the economic downturn and job losses, and the doubling of vegetable prices of the last few days is pinching their pockets even more. The Central Government, in collaboration with various State Governments will have to take immediate actions to ensure that the prices of these essentials are brought under control so that citizens can get a sigh of relief.
A total of over 15,000 responses were received across 216 districts of India. 63% respondents were from tier 1, 24% from tier 2 and 13% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. They survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.