COVID-19 lockdown impact: 55% consumers still unable to get their essential goods via ecommerce platforms


  • • Percentage of consumers unable to find essentials via ‘local retail stores’ reduces to 38%

April 1, 2020, New Delhi: In this time of COVID-19 outbreak, LocalCircles has been regularly tracking the on-ground availability of essential goods in retail stores, as well as on ecommerce platforms. The 5th survey on this was conducted between March 30-31 and shows marginal improvement in the availability of essential goods at retail stores as well as via ecommerce platforms.

During the time when people are allowed to step out of the houses only to procure essential products/services, their availability has been a big concern raised on LocalCircles by consumers from across the country over the past 11 days. LocalCircles has been regularly tracking the on-ground change that has been taking place in the availability/non-availability of essential goods in retail stores, as well as on ecommerce platforms, and is regularly being escalated to Central Government and State Governments.

The essential goods survey for March 27-28 had indicated that 59% of those who ordered essential goods via an ecommerce app could not get them and 40% of those who went to local retail stores could not get most of the essential goods they wanted. To continue tracking the situation, LocalCircles conducted the 5th consumer survey between March 30-31, which received 17,048 responses from consumers located in 178 districts of India.

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 55% consumers unable to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 55% consumers unable to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps

The first question asked consumers when they placed an order for essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from an eCommerce app during the last 48 hours, how was their experience. 36% said they were able to get most items while 7% said they were able to get only some items as online stores were stocked out for others. 20% said they were not able to get most items while 28% said they were not able to get anything. Only 9% said they were able to get everything easily.

The Government has been working to remove the hurdles in the way of essential supplies reaching consumers. When compared with the data from March 27-28, the percentage of consumers who were able to find essential goods via an eCommerce app, has increased from 41% to 45% in the last 2 days. This indicates that although there is some improvement in availability on ecommerce apps, many consumers are still struggling to buy essentials via this channel.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increase from 41% to 45% in last 2 days

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increase from 41% to 45% in last 2 days

The reverse plotting also shows that the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products via ecommerce apps is showing slow improvement and 55% consumers still could not find their essentials in the last 2 days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 59% to 55% in last 2 days

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 59% to 55% in last 2 days

Based on feedback from industry, obtaining curfew passes for delivery personnel is still a challenge in many parts of the country. In addition, availability of workforce is also a challenge now for warehousing and delivery personnel as migrant labour moves back to their hometowns. As a result, most ecommerce platforms are still not accepting orders for essential goods in most cities and if an order is accepted, long fulfilment times of 5-6 days (versus 1-2 in normal circumstances) is being promised to consumers. Latest feedback from consumers is also indicating that some platforms are doing last minute cancellation on 25-50% of the items ordered.

Consumers were also asked when they tried to purchase essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from a local retail store during the last 48 hours, what was their experience like. 27% said they were able to get everything easily while 35% said they were able to get most items except a few. 21% said they were able to get only some items as stores were stocked out for others and 13% said they were not able to get most of the items. 4% said they were not able to get anything.

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 38% consumers unable to find essential goods in their local retail stores

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 38% consumers unable to find essential goods in their local retail stores

On the local retail stores front, the availability of essential goods has marginally improved in the last five days. On March 27-28, 60% of the consumers were reportedly able to find essential goods at local retail stores. This number has gone up a notch and stands at 62% as on 30-31 March, compared to 57% consumers who were able to find them on March 25-26. On March 23-24, the number stood at 68% while on March 20-22, i.e. prior to the Junta Curfew, the number stood at 83%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 60% to 62% in last 2 days

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 60% to 62% in last 2 days

The reverse plotting of retail stores shows a trend similar to that of ecommerce apps, where the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products is showing some improvement and has reduced from 40% to 38% in the last 2 days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces form 40% to 38% in last 2 days

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces form 40% to 38% in last 2 days

The key challenge reported by consumers is that many local retail stores are still closed and not delivering because their owners and managers have still not received the curfew passes. While the process has been laid out by the authorities, the logistics have still not been completed for many of them to open their stores, receive goods, sell and deliver to consumers. In addition, it has been reported that the stores are also facing issues as a large number of their workforce have gone back to their hometowns/villages due to the Coronavirus fear.

Again, the collective view of consumers and LocalCircles is that trucks carrying essential goods and personnel engaged in warehousing, retail and delivery of the same must not be subjected to the requirement of any curfew passes by local authorities. Instead, they should be permitted to operate on the basis of a signed letter from the ecommerce platform or the retail brand authorising the individual and corroborated by identifying them with a valid Government identity.

LocalCircles will be submitting the findings of this report to various stakeholders in the Central Government and State Governments requesting them to take actions highlighted in this report and drive further improvement in availability of essential goods via retail stores and ecommerce platforms.

About LocalCircles

LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric. LocalCircles is also India’s # 1 pollster on issues of governance, public and consumer interest. More about LocalCircles can be found on https://www.localcircles.com

Akshay Gupta - media@localcircles.com, +91-8585909866

All content in this report is a copyright of LocalCircles. Any reproduction or redistribution of the graphics or the data therein requires the LocalCircles logo to be carried along with it. In case any violation is observed LocalCircles reserves the right to take legal action.

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