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India cautiously returning to a state of “business as usual”: Report

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Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) unveiled wave 22, the latest 30-day analysis of its Global State of the Consumer Tracker, indicating a consumption revival in India, with consumers showing positive spending intent and a brighter outlook towards the future.

Decreasing number of COVID-19 cases as well as an aggressive vaccination drive have brought in a new wave of confidence amongst Indian consumers.

Latest findings reflect that the Indian consumer is ready to spend more on discretionary items, feels safe about returning to work place, wants to spend on travel and is less hesitant
about in-person events and activities—all of which are positive trends for India’s economic revival.

The following facts indicate a favourable trend towards return to normalcy:
– Only 34% Indian respondents show anxiety
– 84% consumers feel safe to return to workplace
– 60% consumers have shown willingness to attend in-person events
– 59% consumers feel safe taking a flight
– 30% consumers show willingness to use public transport

However, the concerns about physical well-being still prevail:
– 76% of Indian consumers are concerned about their physical well-being
– 79% are concerned about the health of their family

Financial confidence also seems to gain momentum as the tracker shows Indian consumers’ intent in making large purchases.

Porus Doctor, Partner and Consumer Industry leader, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP said, “The easing of COVID-19 related restrictions across the country along with an accelerated vaccination drive has fueled positive consumer sentiments. Our latest survey insights indicate higher levels of consumer spends and a decline in anxiety levels will boost India’s economic revival albeit with a touch of caution.”

Key trends emerging from the survey include the following:

1. Indians slowly making their way back to the office. With robust vaccination initiatives by the government, Indians have gained confidence and are slowly returning to the workplace. However, the employees are expected to be in office on a need-basis and with utmost precautions, keeping strong safety protocols in place.

2. Spending intent shifting towards more discretionary items. With the festive season around the corner and lower COVID-19 cases, Indian consumers are showing lower levels of anxiety, resulting in their willingness to increase spending on more discretionary items. Consumers are seen actively spending on 12% alcohol, 36% cable TV, 36% clothing / footwear, 33% electronics, 25% furnishings and 22% on restaurants.

3. International leisure travel gaining momentum Reduced anxiety, coupled with several countries lifting travel restrictions for India, the Indian consumer is all set for international travel. 57% Indians surveyed are planning international travel for leisure in the next three months. With several initiatives to allow the movement of passengers between nations like air bubbles, vaccine passports, travel corridors and now Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), search inquiries for travel to international destinations, have been on rise, providing a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered travel and hospitality sector

Other trends:

• Saving intent: The analysis shows that savings are up by 4% (50% in the current wave compared with 46% in the previous wave**). This could be in preparation of future purchases and seasonal deals during the festive season.
Mobility status

  • Reduced concern about physically interacting with sales personnel: Our findings indicate only 30% of the respondents were concerned about physically interacting with a salesperson, showing increasing customer confidence
  •  With offices and other daily activities gradually resuming, Indian respondents are seen to have reduced anxiety on mobility though 70% respondents plan to limit the use of public transportation in the current wave, which is a slight dip when compared with 73% in the previous wave
  •  Additionally, 67% of Indian respondents plan to limit their use of ride hailing services over the next 3 months as compared with 70% in the previous wave

Travel and hotel stay trend: The recent developments show an upward trend to travel for leisure in the next three months as compared with the previous wave** (possibly because of the ongoing festive season and increase in revenge travel)

  • 57% of Indian respondents right now feel safe staying in a hotel
  • Additionally, 19% Indian respondents intend to spend on travel during the current wave compared with 11% in the previous wave.

Indian consumer has transformed to be a socially conscious shopper

  • 68% respondents would like more locally sourced items and 74% purchased from brands that responded well to the crisis