Consumers most likely to cut down shopping expenditure post lockdown, RAI consumer survey

ST Staff
Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Reflecting the new-normal, 75 per cent of respondents said that regular store sanitization was their preferred measure and expectation of feeling safe and secure while shopping. 57 per cent said they prefer minimal interaction with the staff, with 30 per cent indicating their preference for virtual test rooms

A consumer sentiment survey by the Indian Retailers Association (RAI) found that 67 per cent of consumers showed little to no excitement in shopping post the lockdown. The 'Unlocking Indian Consumer Sentiment Post Lockdown' survey, in association with Litmus World, surveyed over 4,000 respondents across the country, sought to understand the likely behaviour and shopping preferences of Indian consumers in a post-lockdown environment.

Consumers in the survey showed symptoms of caution and conservatism as they were asked to assess if, how, when, and where they would like to go shopping once the lockdown lifts.

In the first three months after the lockout, 62 per cent of respondents said they were likely to visit the stores. In Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, this number goes up to 75 per cent. However, 78 per cent said their expenditure on shopping would go down. Just 6 per cent said their spending would be increased. That would mean a slower recovery for the retail sector, which in the last few months has seen zero revenue and sustained losses.

Reflecting the new-normal, 75 per cent of respondents said that regular store sanitization was their preferred measure and expectation of feeling safe and secure while shopping. 57 per cent said they prefer minimal interaction with the staff, with 30 per cent indicating their preference for virtual test rooms.

Commenting on the survey's findings, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India, said, "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 prioritize 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."

The survey also asked consumers to place their shopping lists first. Food and Grocery and Apparel & Clothing remain top consumer wish lists at 52 per cent each. As consumers were forced to adapt to their restricted lifestyles, it is not surprising that the top-5 feature is Consumer Durables & Electronics; Beauty, Wellness & Personal Care and Footwear. Consumers, however, showed low interest in spending on restaurants, travel, and leisure, with Furniture and Jewellery, Watches & Personal Accessories being given less priority.

Even though shopping priorities could have been reordered, consumers still seem to prefer an in-store experience. In Tier 2 & 3 cities, 75 per cent of respondents said they still prefer to buy offline. In Tier 1 cities respondents showed an equal preference for online & offline media.

Even in the midst of caution and uncertainty, 67 per cent of respondents over the age of 45 said they preferred offline to shopping online. "The Indian consumer's optimism will revive the retail economy within 3 months of the unlock phase. The people pulse survey along with Retailers Association of India (RAI) also exhibits trust and value for money being leading indicators for retailers to lead the bounce back agenda," said Khushaal Talreja, Head of Marketing & Partnerships, LitmusWorld.

The respondents were 73 per cent males and 27 per cent females. Over two-thirds were aged between 25 and 44 years. 80 per cent came from Tier-1 towns like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and others, while the rest came from Tier-2 and Tier-3.

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