For most consumers, the Janata Curfew followed by a 21-day lockdown were unprecedented events. But a look at the data shows that retailers anticipated some form of a lockdown long before the Government of India announced it on 24 March 2020.
In India, traditional channels supply 90% of groceries and daily essentials. Unfortunately, these channels are also unorganised and lack systemic processes for forecasting demand or anticipating surges in demand. However, retailers of such channels rely on their experience and peer groups to predict more accurately than many sophisticated models. Also, consumption as such surges during the many Indian festivals and retailers cue their stocking plans to the festive calendar.
We can surmise from the data that Indian retailers did not panic and stockpile for two primary reasons:
- The festive period had just peaked. So retailers had already bought their stock, but their offtake was lukewarm.
- Initially, a few states announced social distancing only as a precautionary measure. The lax approach allowed retailers to anticipate a lockdown and prepare for it before the distribution network came to a standstill.
How did Product Categories Fare?
Beverage fared worst among all the product categories. The category’s peak season is summer and just as it was about to start COVID-19 and the lockdown hit the country. However, the category had good YoY growth in the first two months of the year.
The season for Confectionery was coming to an end as school’s were shutting down after March. COVID-19 accelerated the decline. Dairy, on the other hand, had spikes in its sales in Week 07 and 08 of Q1 thanks to Mahashivratri and later to the lockdown announcement. Personal Care had two surges: the first one in the fourth week and second in the eighth week due to the monthly buying pattern.
Among all categories, Packaged Food is showing the fastest recovery, while Commodity was the least affected category. Read category specific insights in our full report.