As retailers climb back on their feet under Unlock 1.0, the 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.
This is one of several stark findings in a consumer sentiment survey released on Tuesday by the Retailers Association of India (RAI).
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.
Consumers in the survey 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. Nearly 62 per cent 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 two and tier three cities.
However, 78 per cent said their shopping expenditure will decrease. Only 6 per cent said they will increase their spending. This will mean a slower recovery for the retail sector which has seen zero revenue and sustained losses over the last few months.
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. About 57 per cent said they will prefer minimal staff interaction with 30 per cent indicating their preference towards virtual trial rooms.
“Despite a strained quarter, the sector will have to make investments in implementing the necessary safeguards to win back consumer confidence,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India.
The survey also asked consumers to prioritise their shopping lists. At 52 per cent each, food and grocery along with 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 five.
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. Nearly 75 per cent respondents in tier two and three cities said they will still prefer to buy offline.
Respondents in tier one cities showed an equal preference to online and offline mediums. Even amid the caution and fear, 67 per cent respondents above the age of 45 said they preferred offline over online shopping.
“The Indian consumer’s optimism will revive the retail economy within three months of the unlock phase. The people pulse survey along with Retailers Association of India also exhibits trust and value for money being leading indicators for retailers to lead the bounce back agenda,” said Khushaal Talreja, Head of Marketing and Partnerships at LitmusWorld.
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 one cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi and others while the rest were from tier two and three cities.