As the case count of positive Covid-19 disease continues to rise in the country, consumers are resorting to stocking essential items. As a result, demand for soap, sanitizer, daily necessities like rice and vegetables as well as face masks have reached an all-time high. Fearing that the government might soon announce a complete lockdown to tackle the pandemic, store owners say items like atta, rice, cooking oil, noodles and other packaged food items have skyrocketed.
Acorss the national capital, shopkeepers said they have never seen this level of panic buying in the past and they are on their toes to refill the shelves.
“Five cartons of Maggi was sold in just half an hour on Thursday after PM Modi’s call to observe Janta Curfew on Sunday. In general scenario, the same quantity of noodles are sold in 4-5 days,” said Prakash, a grocery store staff in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar Area. Another store owner in the locality echoed similar sentiments.
The owner said they had to stop Atta sales to prevent hoarding.
“We are jotting down names and phone numbers of people who wants Atta. The delivery time for a five 5 kg packet in at least 15 hours,” the owner said.
When checked, the shop was selling Atta of relatively unknown brands because ITC branded ones are in scarce. Similarly, queues of shoppers were seen on branded retail format stores such as Big Bazaar, Spencer and Modern Bazaar.
“The average basket size has gone up by 50 per cent and sales of packaged food such as cheese, pasta, noodles and long-shelf-life milk have gone up,” said a sales representative at Big Bazaar. Demand for food items on online grocery firms is also up.
“We are witnessing nearly 2X growth in traffic and revenue and baskets are larger by 15-20 per cent,” said Hari Menon, CEO, Bigbasket. On delivery delays, Menon said: “We will face some constraints for a few more days as it takes time to build capacity in terms of shortage and delivery fleet. But, we are working to streamline activities.
Companies ramp up production to tackle the shortage.
To cater to the rising demand, major FMCG companies such as HUL, Amul, Godrej Consumer and ITC are ramping up their production and distribution by almost double.
While HUL and Godrej Consumer have assured personal hygiene products such as handwash and sanitizers will be available at fair prices, other companies like Amul said there has been no shortage so far and going forward there will be no constraint in supply, too, as it generally keeps an inventory of 15-20 days in advance.