Girls wearing masks shop in Jaipur. Markets have been busy despite people being wary of catching Covid-19. Photo: AFP / Bhagirath Basnet / The Times Of India

In India, the festival season from October to December boosts overall consumption as many households consider it auspicious to buy cars and motorcycles, white goods such as refrigerators and air-conditioners during these months.

Dealers also offer discounts to boost sales.

However, because of the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, rises in the prices of essential commodities, and petrol and diesel prices, have hit record levels, plus households in this festive season have been tight-fisted.

According to a survey by the online platform LocalCircles, about 60% of households in the top-10 cities are spending during the ongoing festive season, but rising costs have made them more budget-conscious, the Press Trust of India reported.

In its Mood of the Consumer national survey covering more than 61,000 households across top-10 cities, the platform claimed there had been an improvement in consumer sentiment from the preceding months.

The percentage of households planning to spend during festive season 2021 jumped from 30% in May to 60% in September, as Covid-19’s second wave tapered off and economic certainty improved in these four months. But the rising prices of fuel and essentials have made them budget-conscious, LocalCircles founder Sachin Taparia said.

According to the survey, the residents of seven of the top-10 cities have rated their budgets as their top shopping criteria. “Budget is the top criteria for households of Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurugram (a satellite town near New Delhi), Kolkata, Pune and Ahmedabad, while for households in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Noida, safety is more important. ‘Convenience’ is also quite an important criterion for Noida, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad households,” the survey said.

Though the Covid-19 second wave has abated, people are wary of flocking to stores and markets. At least one of two residents in the eight cities surveyed are doing the majority of their festive shopping by ordering online or locally for home delivery.

Nearly 75% of respondents in Hyderabad, 72% in Noida (a satellite town near New Delhi), 67% in Pune and 60% in Chennai said they prefer getting most of what they need delivered to them instead of going to stores and markets.

“Kolkata (57%) and Mumbai (52%) were the two large cities where more people will visit markets,” the survey added.

Smartphones, consumer electronics, white goods and appliances, home renovations and devices upgrades were some of the big-ticket purchases residents in the top-10 cities were planning to make during the festive season. All households in Hyderabad and Noida, 83% in Gurugram, 80% in Bangalore, 57% in Mumbai and 48% in Chennai were likely to buy products like smartphones and consumer electronics.

The LocalCircles survey covered Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Gurugram and Noida and claimed the study received more than 195,000 responses from over 61,000 households across these cities.

Chip shortage

Sales of passenger vehicles fell in September as a shortage of semiconductors disrupted production operations at several top manufacturers. Industry leader Maruti Suzuki reported a 57% decline in sales in September, while Hyundai Motor’s sales volume fell by a third during the same period.