Availability of Essential Goods during lockdown: Consumers report improvement in essentials availability via retail stores while availability via ecommerce platforms drops again


  • • Only 52% of those who ordered essentials via ecommerce platforms found most or all items
  • • 80% of those who ordered essentials via local retail stores got most or all items

20th May 2020, New Delhi: With the commencement of lockdown 4.0, a plethora of relaxations have been announced by the MHA. LocalCircles in association with the Department of Consumer Affairs has been regularly tracking the availability of essential goods in local retail stores, as well as via ecommerce platforms.

The essential goods survey for April 19-20 had indicated that 42% of those who ordered essential goods via an ecommerce app could not get them and 33% 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 10th consumer survey between May 17-18, which received 16,000+ responses from consumers located in more than 182 districts of India.

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 52% consumers were able to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps in the last 48 hours

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 52% consumers were able to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps in the last 48 hours

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. 42% said they were able to get most items while 16% 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 12% said they were not able to get anything. 10% said they were able to get everything easily.

On the ecommerce platform front, the availability of essential goods has shown some decline in the past few days. On April 19-20, 58% of the consumers were reportedly able to find majority of the essential goods via ecommerce apps. This number has dropped to 52% as on 17-18 May. Before the lockdown began, this number stood at 65%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 58% to 52%

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 58% to 52%

The reverse plotting also shows that the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products via ecommerce apps has shown a decline and 48% consumers still could not find their essentials via ecommerce apps in the last 2 days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increases from 42% to 48%

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increases from 42% to 48%

After the latest lockdown 4.0 guidelines, more relaxations have been given which should lead to increased movement of both people and goods to factories as well as in the supply chain which should help in improving availability of products to the consumers via ecommerce platforms.

In the early days of the lockdown, there were reports that e-commerce companies and their delivery personnel were often restrained from moving around, which hampered services and delivery of essentials to customers. On getting various complaints around this, the Government later ensured that processes were streamlined and such issues did not occur.

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. 40% said they were able to get everything easily while another 40% said they were able to get most items except a few. 12% said they were able to get only some items as stores were stocked out for others and 7% said they were not able to get most of the items. Just 1% said they were not able to get anything.

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 80% consumers were able to find most essential goods in their local retail stores in the last 48 hours

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 80% consumers were able to find most essential goods in their local retail stores in the last 48 hours

On the local retail stores front, the availability of essential goods has marginally improved in the last 2 days. On April 19-20, 67% of the consumers were reportedly able to find essential goods at local retail stores. This number stands at 80% as on 17-18 May. Prior to the Junta Curfew, the number stood at 83%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 67% to 80%

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 67% to 80%

The reverse plotting of retail stores shows that the situation has really improved in the last couple of weeks, and the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products has improved. The percentage has reduced from 33% to 20% in the last few days.

A parallel LocalCircles poll showed that in the next few months, people will continue to prefer getting things delivered to their doorsteps rather that going to the markets to keep themselves safe from Coronavirus. This would mean that delivery personnel will be in demand both at retail stores as well as at ecommerce companies.

The 9th pulse check showed that the availability through ecommerce and retail stores were converging but in the 10th pulse check, it looks like stockouts are negatively impacting the ecommerce platforms again. The good thing though as reported by the consumers is that delivery slots are now much more easily available as compared to April when consumers waited 3-5 days to get a delivery slot. The key here is for ecommerce platforms to improve the supply levels in all cities.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces from 33% to 20%

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces from 33% to 20%

COVID-19 lockdown has changed consumer habits and many people are now using a combination of ecommerce platforms and local retailers/delivery services to get what they need to run their households. The habit of receiving groceries at doorstep instead of visiting markets can be changed permanently if ecommerce platforms put in concerted effort to improve selection, stock levels and continue to deliver in less than 24 hours. Whether they will be able to execute fast enough and deliver towards this before majority of the consumers start visiting local markets again, remains to be seen.

Survey Demographics

16,000+ responses were received from citizens located in 182 districts of India. 56% respondents were males while 44% respondents were females. 65% respondents were from tier 1, 22% from tier 2 and 11% respondents were from tier 3 and beyond locations. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.

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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