The 40-day stringent lockdown that caused economic jitters across the country due to demand and supply shock is finally easing. With relaxed mobility, are we seeing light at the end of the tunnel? A progression in Google trends across segments does suggest so.
Google trend is an interesting research tool that shows how much traffic a keyword has generated to gauge changing interest in a topic over a period of time. A closer look across segments reveals interesting insights.
The auto industry paid a heavy price of a one-month complete lockdown registering zero sales in April and passenger vehicle sales dropped 84 per cent in May over last year. However, past 12-month search volumes data for cars gives comforting signals, especially during last couple of weeks. The search volume rose from a score of 58 in the week ended May 03 to 93 in the last week of May. Some other search items such as air conditioners, clothes, mobile phones and jewellery too witnessed a similar traction. The figure for mobile phone searches scuttled back to 100 in the last week of May after almost losing half of its popularity in the first week of May. Nonetheless, medicines retained its popularity almost all through the year.
These numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point for a given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term and a value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of '0' means that there was not enough data for this term.
These are encouraging signs but whether it will substantially translate into a likely demand recovery is difficult to gauge.
Based on the ground analysis of the recovery and constraints post lockdown, a Philip Capital report emphasised that while it is early to assess consumer behaviour amid rising coronavirus cases but the easing mobility offers respite to some segments. "So far, the signs are encouraging in certain consumer segments such as consumer durables and retail (a mix of pent-up and need-based demand, demand arising from discounts is yet to play-out); tractors/agri inputs remain strong as foreseen. Cement has shown unanticipated pick-up in certain regions. Other segments have certainly paced up in May over April, but the outlook stays weak," the report added. They are also watchful of changing versus sustaining consumer and business response amid falling income and profitability.