As the number of the deadly COVID cases rise in India and the country is on a three-week lockdown, anxious Indians as per a Nielsen study are not hoarding as much food and vegetables as they are hoarding hand sanitisers, handwash, soaps and other hygiene products. Hand sanitisers as per the Nielsen report has grown by an enormous 53 per cent in the month of February compared to a humble 11 per cent growth during the months of November, December and January. In fact, 91 per cent of consumers said that they would hoard hygiene products like sanitisers during the lockdown, while 67 per cent said they would hoard food essentials. No wonder, by the beginning of March, most traditional retailers and online grocers had run out of stocks of handwash and sanitisers. Even cash and carry retailers such as Metro and Tesco had complained of running out of stock. This explains why manufacturers such as HUL, ITC and Godrej Consumer announced that they were ramping up production. The government also directed them to reduce prices of sanitisers and handwashes.
Sanitisers and handwash till recently were premium products, and less than 2 per cent of the SKUs of most FMCG companies. While hand sanitisers between middle of February and middle of March 2018-19 saw an impressive growth of 72 per cent in traditional stores, it has shot up to 144 per cent in February-March this year. Similarly, liquid handwash has grown from 28 per cent (in 2018-19) to 42 per cent. However, it is the online grocers which have seen the maximum growth in orders for hygiene products between February 20 and March 20. While orders for hand sanitisers have grown by 1425 per cent in the last one month, face-mask orders have increased by 408 per cent. The online orders for handwash have increased by 86 per cent, while floor and toilet cleaners orders have gone up by 77 per cent.
As people started preparing for quarantine, the Nielsen report says that they not only have been stockpiling essential food items like atta (which saw a 25 per cent growth in demand in traditional trade and 16 per cent in e-commerce platforms) and pulses (which grew by 72 per cent in traditional trade), a lot of them also bought indulgence food items such as biscuits, chocolates and salty snacks. While orders for salty snacks grew by 84 per cent online platforms, there was a 31 per cent growth in orders for biscuits.
Nielsen also ran a survey among chemist shops to find out the demand for mask and gloves. The demand for masks between March 15 and March 21, has gone up by 80 per cent, while the demand for gloves for the same period has gone up by 27 per cent. The prices of masks have doubled by 38 per cent, while those of gloves have increased by 10 per cent.
Though 90 per cent Indian consumers across 15 cities are aware of the prescribed methods of safeguarding themselves from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the Nielsen study says that 40 per cent of its respondents are not abiding by the guidance. For instance, 94 per cent are aware of the importance of washing hands multiple times, but only 62 per cent practise it. Similarly, 85 per cent of the respondents know about social distancing, but only 52 per cent adhere to it.
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