Economy

Retailers brace for a sustained downturn post lockdown: Survey

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 09, 2020

A deserted view of a hyper market at Mantri Mall in Bengaluru.   -  Somashekar GRN

The sector is headed for a slower recovery as consumers exhibit symptoms of caution and conservatism

The retail industry might have to brace itself for a sustained downturn, as a majority 67 per cent consumers showed little to no excitement in shopping post the lockdown, according to a study.

“About 62 per cent of respondents said they were inclined to visit stores within the first three months post lockdown. This number goes up to 75 per cent in tier-II and tier-III cities. However, 78 per cent said their shopping expenditure would decrease,” according to the findings of a consumer sentiment survey released by the Retailers Association of India.

“Only 6 per cent said they would increase their spending. This would mean a slower recovery for the retail sector, which has seen zero revenue and sustained losses over the last few months,” it added.

Consumers exhibited symptoms of caution and conservatism as they were asked to evaluate if, how, when and where they would like to shop once the lockdown lifts.

In a reflection of the new-normal, 75 per cent respondents said regular sanitisation of stores was their most preferred measure and expectation to feel safe and secure while shopping. Nearly 57 per cent said they would prefer minimal staff interaction, with 30 per cent indicating their preference towards virtual trial rooms.

“With most consumers demonstrating hesitation to resume shopping in the coming months, the retail sector needs the support of all stakeholders to revive sentiment. Retailers will need to prioritise safety and hygiene measures to reassure consumers that they will receive a safe shopping experience. Despite a strained quarter, the sector will have to make investments in implementing the necessary safeguards to win back consumer confidence,” Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO at RAI said.

At 52 per cent each, food and grocery and apparel and clothing continue to top consumer wish lists. As consumers were compelled to adapt to their restricted lifestyles, it is not surprising that consumer durables and electronics, beauty, wellness and personal care and footwear feature in the top 5.

However, consumers expressed low interest in spending on restaurants, travel and leisure, as furniture and jewellery, watches and personal accessories were least prioritised.

Even though shopping priorities may have been reordered, it appears that consumers still prefer an in-store experience. About 75 per cent respondents in tier-II and tier-III cities said they would still prefer to buy offline. Respondents in tier-I cities showed an equal preference for online and offline mediums.

Even amidst the caution and fear, 67 per cent respondents above the age of 45 said they preferred offline over online shopping.

The respondents comprised 73 per cent men and 27 per cent, women. More than two-thirds were between the ages of 25 and 44. About 80 per cent were from Tier-I cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and others, while the rest were from Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

Surveying over 4,000 respondents across the country, the ‘Unlocking Indian Consumer Sentiment Post Lockdown’ survey in association with LitmusWorld sought to understand the likely behaviour and shopping preferences of Indian consumers in a post lockdown environment.

Published on June 09, 2020

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