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Kirana retailers better prepared for COVID-19 second wave

Ajita Shashidhar     April 7, 2021

Though the second wave of the COVID-19 virus is considered to be more lethal than the first, the 15-million-strong network of kirana stores as well as consumers shopping there seem to be far more resilient than last year.

"Retailers are allocating shopping time for regular customers and reassuring them about supplies. On the supply side also, there is no major disruption so far," says Prem Kumar, Founder and CEO of retail technology company, Snapbizz.

A large number of kirana stores, especially in the cities, have taken to omni-channel in a big way in the last one year. While these kirana stores have always done doorstep deliveries, many of them have also signed up with retail tech companies to create their own app, enabling consumers to place orders digitally.

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"Retailers are more alert now and are ensuring they are well stocked, but there is no panic," says Anup Kumar, CEO and Founder of the Jaipur-headquartered Kirana King. "As suppliers to kirana stores, we have also improved our efficiency. Earlier, we used to deliver to stores in 48 hours, but in the last one year we are trying to do it within 24 hours."

Unlike last year, there is no panic buying either. "Last time the median basket size went up by 50 per cent; [this time] we don't see any material change in basket size or product mix in baskets," points out Snapbizz's Kumar.

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Last year there was a huge off-take of products, such as ready-to-eat food and household cleaning items, and retailers ran out of stock. Since the distribution networks are not disrupted, the retailer isn't too worried.

"The supply chain seems to have stabilised post the pandemic-induced lockdown in the country last year. There is neither panic buying from the consumer side nor very high demand for stocks from the retailer side," Kumar explains.

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