Businesses affected as people are buying cheaper items

Business City COVID-19 Economy Pandemic

They are not purchasing goods in bulk

As consumers look for ways to cut costs, shop owners say they are noticing a shift in consumer behaviour. Customers are now buying low-priced commodities rather than more expensive ones.

Divya Palleda, a consumer, informed The Observer: “I always think twice before buying goods that are on the expensive side. Before choosing, I think about the worthiness of an item. I am OK compromising a little on quality as long as it saves money.”

Divya wants to wait two or three years before she goes back to her old shopping habits, at least until she fully recovers financially.

Shoppers, unlike before, are not buying goods in bulk. The concept of monthly shopping has mostly diminished. Mishad K.K., owner of Royal Mart, a supermarket in Banashankari shared: “People are not willing to buy goods in bulk. Most customers set a budget before coming to shop. Such customers stick to their budgets and buy commodities enough for 15 days only, not for 30 days.”

Customers are more attracted towards items that offer discounts. Owing to this, most shops are coming up with cost-effective offers on almost every item. About this, Mishad said: “Now people are looking for offers. Earlier, these customers purchased whatever they wanted, offer or no offer.”

Sarvesh Giri, General Manager of the D-Mart supermarket chain,has observed a different trend. “There are some customers who are ‘brand loyal’. Such people don’t easily change their taste…. So in order to cut their cost and at the same time not compromise on quality, they consume less and therefore buy less. They buy only what they require.”

Sales of luxury goods have gone down drastically. Giri said people are not willing to spend their disposable income —the amount which left after paying for food, housing and bills — on luxury items.

“To give an example of luxury goods, the sale of Ferrero Rocher (a brand of luxury chocolates) has gone down from Rs 1 crore per month to Rs 50,000 per month. People are not indulging in buying luxury goods after the pandemic,” he said.

The festive season hasn’t changed the scenario either. Vijay Kumar, General Manager at Metro Cash and Carry, said: “Compared to last year, we were hoping that sales would get better at least during the festive season. For example, earlier if customers used to buy a Rs100 gift box, now they are only buying one soan papdi packet. Basically, the value that used to be spent on gift items during the festive season has come down.”

During the pandemic, people have become more health-conscious. Sales of healthy food options like dry fruits and juices have increased. Sarvesh and Mishad said people are buying healthier food rather than items like biscuits and namkeen. The sales of hand wash and sanitizers have increased manifold.

However, not all customers have changed their buying habits. Kruthika Kiran, a consumer, said: “I haven’t changed my shopping habits. I am still buying what I used to buy.  I haven’t bought clothes for almost a year. I don’t require new clothes as I don’t go out much.”

T.J Joseph, an economics professor at the Central University of Kerala, cited a few reasons behind this change. “When we talk about a consumer’s demand behavior, a few factors like price, current and expected income, peer group influence (demonstration effect), and influence of advertising are the major influencing factors. During the pandemic there is some uncertainty regarding both current and future income, at least for a section of the consumers.  Therefore, people are a little bit conscious about their spending. There was a break on the so-called ‘overspending’ that arose from the demonstration effect and ‘shopping effect’.”

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