84% of Maharashtra residents want lockdown restrictions to continue till May 31; Most suggest home deliveries of all goods be permitted to minimize business disruption and consumer inconvenience
- ● 71% residents of Maharashtra believe that home delivery of goods should be the primary model that should be used during lockdown/curfew in their district/city
- ● Many say they need to purchase Work From Home equipment, appliances, children related products like books, stationery, equipment for online classes etc. in the next 3 months
- ● Small businesses in the state indicate an urgent need to have a model that enables them to operate safely despite COVID
May 11, 2021, New Delhi: The State Government of Maharashtra had imposed lockdown-like restrictions across the state in mid-April amid the outbreak of the 2nd wave of COVID-19 that has spiraled like a wildfire and led to more than 65,000 daily cases. Though the number of active cases in Mumbai in the past three weeks have shown a progressive dip, the state is still marking near 60,000 daily cases.
With the current guidelines ending on May 14th, residents of Maharashtra in the last 3 weeks have been expressing their views and opinion via LocalCircles in the various online city communities and the state level online communities suggesting that consumer convenience and business resumption must also be given due priority going forward. Since the lockdown-like restriction in the State allowed only stores and deliveries of essentials to operate, the consumer is unable to procure anything beyond groceries and medicines. Small businesses who serve the majority of the consumer demand have been raising the issue of having been shut down completely for over 4 weeks now and the urgent need for business continuity.
Basis the above feedback, LocalCircles conducted a comprehensive survey to understand the pulse of the residents of Maharashtra about the best approach for containment and restarting economic activity. It also sought to know what kind of services they think that should be permitted during lockdown or curfew and what are the products and services they need in the next 3 months. The survey received more than 18,000 responses from citizens residing across 30 districts of the state. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. All respondents were validated residents of Maharashtra.
Highest percentage of Maharashtra residents in favour of continuing restrictions, while permitting home deliveries to minimize consumer inconvenience and business disruption
The Government of Maharashtra has allowed all essential buying of food items for only 4 hours daily during the lockdown-like restrictions to contain and mitigate the spread. Given the current daily COVID case load of 60,000 in the state, the survey asked citizens about the best approach for containment and restarting the economic activity. In response, 41% said “continue with existing lockdown/restriction till May 31”, and 43% said “permit all stores/business to open for home deliveries only and continue lockdown till May 31”. Breaking down the poll, 14% said “end lockdown/restrictions on May 15 and permit full reopening of all stores/business”, while 2% couldn’t say. The findings of the survey indicate that the highest percentage of Maharashtra residents are in favour of continuing restrictions, while permitting stores to open for home deliveries. This question in the survey received 4,598 responses.
71% residents of Maharashtra believe that home delivery of goods should be the primary model that should be used during lockdown/curfew in the city
After experiencing lockdowns till September 2020 during the 1st wave of the COVID, the unlocking post that and again the imposition of lockdown-like restrictions in April 2021 amid the 2nd wave, many of the state residents have adopted the home delivery model. Be it calling or sending a whatsapp to the neighbourhood grocery store, or organized retail or placing an order via an online website, residents have gotten used to placing their order and taking contactless or minimum contact deliveries. The next question asked residents about the kind of services they think that should be permitted during lockdown or curfew. In responses, 40% said “home delivery of items like grocery & medicines”, and 31% said “home delivery of all goods”. Breaking down the poll, 28% said “physical retail stores opened in shifts to provide for in-person shopping”, while 1% couldn’t say. The findings of the survey indicate that 71% of residents of Maharashtra believe that home delivery of goods should be the primary model that should be used during lockdown or curfew in the city. This question in the survey received 4,910 responses.
Books, Stationery & Equipment for online classes are the top categories in children related products that 60% Maharashtra households will have a need in the next 3 months
It can be recalled that during the first phase of the COVID-19 wave that forced educational institutions to remain shut as part of the lockdown, most schools in urban districts were able to provide online education and assignments to students, delivering classes through video conferencing. Though there were teething issues early on due to connectivity issues or lack of enough devices in many homes, things settled quite well by June 2020.
The next question asked residents of Maharashtra about the kinds of “must-have” products they will need to procure for children and grandchildren in the next 3 months. In response, 60% said “school books, stationery & equipment for online classes”, 43% said “children apparel, footwear, raincoats, etc.”, and 35% said “other children’s needs such as toys to keep children engaged at home, hobby, supplies, etc.”. This question in the survey received 4,469 responses. The respondents in this question voted on multiple categories of products they currently need to purchase.
Work from Home Equipment is the top category in which households in Maharashtra have a need to purchase in the next 3 months
With Work from Home being implemented for desk jobs by some corporates and subsequently by the Government as well, many residents are not fully equipped to do so. Residents have been writing about the need to procure items like computers, printers, monitors, mobile phones, wifi routers, extenders, accessories and supplies for such devices, products like air conditioners, fans, home appliances and furnishings. With new variants of the virus being found each month, many people are realising that they might be spending considerable time at home in 2021, perhaps more than 2020, they are keen to get set up properly. In the question that asked residents of Maharashtra about the “must-have” products for their household that they need to procure in the next 3 months, 60% said “equipment such as laptop & mobile phone or related items for work from home or other activities”, 26% said “air conditioners, coolers, fans, whitegoods, others”, and 19% said “home appliances, bedding and furnishings”. The findings indicate that “Work From Home gadgets” is the top category in which households in Maharashtra will need to purchase something in the next 3 months. This question in the survey received 4,606 responses.
Though the second wave of COVID arrived in Maharashtra in March, ahead of the rest of India, it is still going strong with 60,000 reported daily cases. While Mumbai has shown exceptional progress and daily caseloads have reduced by 70%, the rest of the state is still seeing high numbers. Also, the virus is continuing to mutate and experts are now predicting a 3rd wave in India targeted more towards children. This begs the question that how long can the state afford to operate with restrictions. After a very difficult 2020, most small businesses are currently operating on 1-3 months of cash flow and with fixed costs like rent, utility, salaries, etc. continuing to incur, many will default or shutdown if the current restrictions continue for a couple of months. Hence there is the need for enabling businesses to operate in a contactless or home delivery mode only till the COVID situation improves considerably. Such a model will enable businesses to restart some activity and end the disruption to some extent while minimizing consumer inconvenience. It will ensure goods move to people and people don’t move to goods.
The Government should enable a mechanism where stores are permitted to operate in home delivery mode with no customer walk-ins permitted and orders only placed via phone, whatsapp or websites. Strict guidelines should be issued such that violations like customer transactions at stores attract penalties to the extent of sealing of businesses for the duration of lockdown. The movement of people should continue to be restricted like it is currently till the situation improves.
While lockdown is the first response to contain the spread of the virus and rightfully so, the above model ensures business disruption and consumer inconvenience is minimized. Once such a model is enabled, even if COVID were to persist for all of 2021 in some form or the other, Maharashtra will have economic continuity and business shutdowns will be minimized.
LocalCircles will share the findings of this survey with offices of the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Maharashtra so that feedback of its residents can be considered as a way forward post May-14th is determined.
18,000+ responses were received from citizens residing in 30 districts of Maharashtra. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.