According to a recent survey by social media platform LocalCircles, 66% of households believe that in the next three months, the top criteria for deciding their mode of buying will be contactless home delivery and adhering to physical distancing norms. With the highly transmissible SARS-COV-2 strain B.1.617.2 spreading rapidly during the 45-day period in April and May this year in India and many families and social networks getting impacted, many consumers made a conscious choice to stay indoors regardless of whether their state or district had imposed a lockdown, LocalCircles said. This phenomenon was observed in not just large cities but even tier 1, 2 and 3 towns. To procure what they needed to run the household, they placed orders with e-commerce apps, local websites or sent a WhatsApp message to local stores for essentials, LocalCircles added.
The survey received more than 40,000 responses from citizens residing in 303 districts of India. 65% of respondents were men while 35% of respondents were women. As per the survey, 51% of households are likely to spend on childrenâ€™s items like books, stationery, apparel, online class equipment in the next three months. LocalCircles said it had been receiving consumer posts and queries in the last 45-60 days on the need to procure items related to children, ranging from books and stationery to extra-curricular activities or hobbies, to keep children engaged at home during this time.
â€śJust when many companies were in the process of transitioning back into a 100% employees back to office model, the COVID second wave hit India taking most by surprise. A typical Indian middle-class household now has most of their home space occupied where 1-2 adults are working from home and children are doing online classes, tuitions etc.,â€ť LocalCircles said. In this scenario, 45% of households are likely to spend on WFH (work from home) gadgets, including mobile phone, laptop, etc., appliances, home furnishings, etc., in the next three months, the survey found.
Now that cases in most states are declining, and governments are considering unlocking in phases, two in three citizens believe that once a district is unlocked, home delivery of all items, and retail stores and market opening with reduced hours should be permitted. In addition to the above poll, LocalCircles also conducted a feedback exercise on the subject of unlocking of retail and local businesses and markets given that they have been shut for 45 days facing huge disruption. The key recommendation from consumers here was that state governments and district administrations as a first unlock step must consider opening stores only for home deliveries and if cases stay low, opening stores for consumer walk-ins with reduced working hours. According to consumers, if over a 2-week period, the daily caseload continues to stay low or declines, full opening of retail stores and markets may be considered.
When consumers were asked about what the criteria for unlocking should be in a district, the majority seemed to be in favour of active cases falling below 500, Test Positivity Rate (TPR) falling below 2% and a week-over-week declining caseload as the criteria for opening up business activity. LocalCircles said it will share the findings of this study with key stakeholders in the Union government and state governments so that as unlocking decisions are made, feedback from households and consumers can be considered.