With lockdown-like curbs being reinforced across India, demand for staples, snacks, frozen foods, milk products, baby foods, hygiene products surged, retailers and consumer goods companies said.

With the country’s covid infections curve on a steep rise, the focus is once again on the supply of essentials.

Arvind Mediratta, chief executive and managing director of Metro Cash and Carry India, said the wholesaler witnessed anxiety buying in the previous weeks, with demand for processed food, ready-to-eat and deep-frozen categories having surged in the past few days.

In Delhi’s Sarita Vihar, Vikas Bhagwani, owner of Vikas Morning Store, reported panic buying over the weekend. “Supplies are still intact; distributors have come today to take orders. Let’s see if we can get stocks on time as Delhi has just moved into a lockdown,” Bhagwani said, referring to the Monday order where the state government announced a week-long curfew, prompting shoppers to stock up. The lockdown will, however, allow the movement of essential items.

Samarth Agarwal, chief executive officer, MaxWholesale, a B2B inventory platform, too, said there was some panic buying at kirana stores. Max works with 30,000 retailers in Delhi and Chandigarh. “The footfall is high, and people are buying essentials—pulses, snacks, baby products, home cleaning and hygiene products. But pantry-loading by customers isn’t like last year,” he said.

On Monday, online grocery retailer Grofers saw its orders more than double across Delhi. Over the last few weeks, Grofers has reported a surge in demand in categories such as packaged foods such as ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook— by up to 80%, frozen foods by up to 500%, and packaged milk and milk products by 150%. “Additionally, we have witnessed a surge in demand for hygiene products like repellents by up to 100%; and floor cleaners and disinfectants up to 50%,” said a company spokesperson.

Categories like vegetable washes have seen a 42% growth in sales, the highest in the last year. “We have seen a surge in demand starting mid-February. As of now, there is an 80% surge in orders in Mumbai and a 40% surge in Pune. We also see similar trends in cities where restrictions were announced recently,” the company spokesperson added.

Retailers Mint spoke to said that instead of buying for two months in advance, consumers are buying groceries for 15 days.

“We checked for sales push indicators from brands during the last week of March and the first two weeks of April to see if there were any changes from what we’ve seen before. Here we saw an overall increase of 13.2% above the weekly average in sales for overall FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods). This was particularly high for home-care that reported a 36% increase over average weekly sales; personal care reported a 35% increase over average weekly sales. However, this is in line with the kind of month-end spike you see for these categories,” said Akshay D’Souza, chief marketing officer, Bizom, a retail intelligence platform.

“The uptick in stocks is more in foods than in non-foods. Customers are also likely to stock up foods more than other products,” according to Anil Chugh, president, consumer care business, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting.

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