From groceries to smartphones, fridges and cars, sales of essentials and discretionary items in the first two weeks of July increased at the fastest rate in a year, as concerns about the pandemic has abated and most states – including several in the south – have unlocked their markets.

Sales of these categories are up 30 to 40 percent from the same period in June, manufacturers and dealers said. These also rose 10-20% despite a solid base last year, when pent-up demand after a long foreclosure drove sales up.

At Parle Products, India’s largest cookie maker, sales recovered completely in July, with the company even facing a shortage of inventory as demand exceeded expectations, said Category Manager Krishnarao Buddha.

“All channels are also building up inventory for big selling days like Independence Day. We have yet to see the impact of rising fuel prices on demand as consumers save on other means such as office travel and entertainment, ”said Buddha.

Sales were also strong in consumer and discretionary products, from cellphones and appliances to cars.

“The passenger vehicle segment is back in the days before the pandemic,” said Vinkesh Gulati, president of the Federation of Automotive Dealers Association. Sales are up more than 50% from the first two weeks of July of the previous two years, he said.

The recovery after the second wave of Covid was geographically more secular, said Shashank Srivasatva, senior executive director of automotive market leader Maruti Suzuki. “There is a rapid turnaround in the sense of the depth of panic in April to the resilience that shone in July. Reservations, retail sales and deliveries are all moving in a positive direction and supply is also more fluid, with the exception of a few variations regarding the challenge of sourcing components, ”he said.

Demand remains strong despite price increases for most products, as FMCG, home appliance, smartphone and auto companies passed higher commodity costs on to consumers.

LG sales were up 20% in the first two weeks of July compared to a year earlier, which the company attributed to strong demand for air conditioners and refrigerators due to delayed monsoons in the north and the opening up of southern markets. This has led the country’s largest home appliance maker to change its perspective on the Indian market.

“Cautiously optimistic, we are now in an optimistic scenario, although most consumer purchases are based on actual need rather than discretionary,” said Deepak Bansal, vice president (corporate planning) at LG Electronics India.

In the FMCG market, sales increased 30.3% from July 1 to 14 compared to the same period the previous month, according to a study by sales automation company Bizom. Although it was driven by strong inventory across all categories, commodities that were hit earlier due to sharp price increases rebounded sharply, growing 68% after the price revision.

“Sales of consumer goods indicate that consumption has fully recovered from the impact of the pandemic with a good start to the second quarter,” said Akshaya D’Souza, marketing director of Mobisy Technologies, owner of Bizom.

Electrical equipment company Havells said sales have grown steadily every week this year after the Covid surge, compared to last year when demand growth was sudden.

“However, if we do the average it is actually better than last year,” said chairman Anil Rai Gupta.



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