The FMCG industry witnessed a sharp 34 percent drop in sales in April due to mobility restrictions and supply side challenges during the lockdown, after registering single-digit growth in the first quarter, according to market insights firm Nielsen.
The decline was mainly on account of lower sales in traditional retail channels such as grocers, chemists, neighbourhood shops and cosmetics stores, while modern trade like hypermarkets and big retail chains continued to grow in April 2020.
Traditional retail witnessed a decline of 38 percent in April due to area/ shop closures. On an average, a traditional retail shop was closed for 12 days in April due to various restrictions and constraints.
This number was significantly higher for outlets other than chemists and grocers, Nielsen said in the third edition of its report on FMCG sector after COVID-19.
On the other hand, modern trade continued to grow at around 5 per cent in April 2020 although consumer buying behaviour in organised trade saw shifts from pre-lockdown period to successive lockdown stages (Lockdown 1 : March 23 to April 12 and Lockdown 2: April 13 to May 3), it added.
The FMCG industry increased sales in the weeks prior to the lockdown announcement across organised retail and organised wholesale channels.
“…as we entered the lockdown phase, we saw a steep decline in sales across channels. This was caused by mobility restrictions and supply side challenges,” Nielsen said. “Modern Trade sales continued to slow down as we moved from phase I to phase II of the lockdown.”
Cash and carry and e-commerce channels, on the other hand, were severely impacted in lockdown 1 but showed some signs of recovery in lockdown 2, the report added.
Moreover, sales growth especially in the non-foods segment started shrinking as it was classified as non-essential.
“Within non-foods, slowdown was witnessed across home care and personal care categories. Only evolved hygiene categories consisting of hand wash, hand sanitizer and floor cleaners continued to grow in lockdown phase I and remained flat in lockdown phase II on account of heightened focus around health and hygiene,” it said.
Nielsen said there was also a slowdown in sale of fresh produce — fruits and vegetables, eggs, meat and sea food in modern trade. “This seems to be driven by both supply and demand side factors,” it added.
Citing a consumer study done from April 10 to 14 among 1,330 respondents across 23 cities, Nielsen said “more than half of the respondents said they will be avoiding non-veg food as a precautionary measure.”
This percentage was still high at 37 percent in the March 17 to 19 round of the study. 40 percent of respondents in the April round stated they would buy less of meat and fish, it added.