COVID-19 Impact: In week 4 of lockdown, consumers report essentials availability improvement via ecommerce platforms while that at retail stores stays at 64%


  • • 57% of those who ordered essentials via ecommerce platforms found them
  • • 64% of those who ordered essentials via local retail stores got them

15th April 2020, New Delhi: During the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequently the 21-day lock down, LocalCircles in association with the Department of Consumer Affairs has been regularly tracking the availability of essential goods in retail stores, as well as on ecommerce platforms.

The essential goods survey for April 9-10 had indicated that 50% of those who ordered essential goods via an ecommerce app could not get them and 35% 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 8th consumer survey between April 13-14, which received 16,000+ responses from consumers located in 180+ districts of India.

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 57% consumers were able to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps in the last 48 hours

Availability of Essential Goods via eCommerce app during COVID-19 Outbreak: 57% consumers were able to find most essential goods via eCommerce apps in the last 48 hours

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. 51% said they were able to get most items while 5% said they were able to get only some items as online stores were stocked out for others. 21% said they were not able to get most items while 17% said they were not able to get anything. 6% said they were able to get everything easily.

On the ecommerce platform front, the availability of essential goods after a dip last week, has shown some improvement in the past few days. On April 9-10, 50% of the consumers were reportedly able to find majority of the essential goods via ecommerce apps. This number has improved to 57% as on 13-14 April. Prior to the Junta Curfew on March 22nd, the number stood at 65%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increases from 50% to 57%

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods via eCommerce apps increases from 50% to 57%

The reverse plotting also shows that the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products via ecommerce apps is showing slow improvement but 43% consumers still could not find their essentials via ecommerce apps in the last 2 days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 50% to 43%

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods via eCommerce apps reduces from 50% to 43%

Ecommerce platforms seem to be stepping up their efforts to provide services by forming partnerships for deliveries as well as hiring temporary workers for the warehouse & delivery operations. Now that the lockdown has been extended, the State Government and local administrations must ensure that all curfew passes are automatically extended till May 3rd and no trucks carrying essentials are stopped.

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. 23% said they were able to get everything easily while 41% 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 11% 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: 64% consumers were able to find most essential goods in their local retail stores in the last 48 hours

Availability of Essential Goods in Retail Stores during COVID-19 Outbreak: 64% consumers were able to find most essential goods in their local retail stores in the last 48 hours

On the local retail stores front, the availability of essential goods has marginally declined in the last 2 days. On April 9-10, 65% of the consumers were reportedly able to find essential goods at local retail stores. This number stands at 64% as on 13-14 April. Prior to the Junta Curfew, the number stood at 83%.

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces from 65% to 64%

Percentage of Consumers able to find essential goods at local retail stores reduces from 65% to 64%

The reverse plotting of retail stores shows more or less a similar situation like last time, and the ‘unavailability’ situation of essential products is stagnant. The percentage has increased from 35% to 36% in the last few days.

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 35% to 36%

Percentage of Consumers unable to find essential goods at local retail stores increases from 35% to 36%

The new timing restrictions for stores to operate in some parts of India have had a slightly negative impact on the availability of essentials. In addition, smaller retailers are now complaining about lack of supply from the distributors or stockists. With the lockdown extension now in place till May 3rd, and MHA issuing additional clarifications on movement of goods guidelines, the states must effectively implement them to help improve availability of essential goods at retail stores.

Overall, it appears that the availability level of essential goods via ecommerce platforms and local retail stores is finally starting to converge. The gap had become significant on March 23-24 when the ecommerce platforms suffered major stockouts upon announcement of the lockdown by various states and the national lockdown. On March 23-24, while 68% consumers reported being able to find most essential goods via local retail stores, only 21% reported being able to find them via ecommerce platforms. On April 13-14, 64%consumers found most essential goods via local retail stores, while 57% of the consumers who went to ecommerce platforms for essentials found most of the items there.

LocalCircles and Department of Consumer Affairs 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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