2020-07-08 18:12:00

Consumers bought low-ticket consumer household appliances on one end, while pushing up demand and queries for dishwashers as shops and markets started slowly opening up in May—indicating the need to ease household chores.

Retailers and makers of consumer durables and electronic items said sales in June were back to 75%-80% of June last year, suggesting a decent recovery when compared to retailers of apparel, footwear, and beauty categories.

“My usual guess is that it is more than just pent-up demand. Because we deal with low-ticket size items, people are back to buying. The kitchen appliance category also saw some momentum as people are spending more time at home,” Anuj Poddar, executive director, Bajaj Electricals Ltd, that sells irons, electric cookers, mixer grinders, juicers, coffee makers etc, told Mint.

Poddar said June has beaten their expectation, building up on the demand that began to pick up mid-May, particularly in the case of small appliances.

Makers of consumer durables lost peak summer months of April and May due to closure of shops amid India’s lockdown that has at places lasted longer than three months.

Usha International said demand in June was comparable to a year ago period.

“We still saw pent up demand in June for fans and coolers. However, for us the appliances category is doing really well as kitchen appliances like OTG, induction cooktops, blenders, mixer and grinders,” said Saurabh Baishakhia, president, Appliances, Usha International.

The company has lined up new models of blenders, mixer grinders and rice cookers for the southern market.

In a survey released by the Retailer’s Association of India (RAI) earlier this week, retailers of consumer durables showed a faster recovery when compared to other categories such as apparel, beauty, accessories, footwear and home furnishings.

While most retailers in high streets and malls reported a 65%-70% slump in sales, sales at retailers of consumer electronics fell by 19% between 15 June and 30 June, RAI said.

Local arm of South Korean company, LG, reported a 15% jump in its home appliances category that includes microwave ovens, washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators, in June.

“We have seen 15% growth in our home appliances category over last year. The surge is mostly because of pent-up demand from shoppers. In fact, we have seen an uptake in demand for products like dishwashers also. Additionally, the extreme temperature in North India has prompted consumers to purchase compressor products, refrigerator & air conditioners,” said Vijay Babu, VP, home appliances, LG Electronics India.

Electronics retailer Vijay Sales that moved to gradually open stores in May said business is back to 70%-75% of the same time last year.

“Just like a person cannot stay without water, now they cannot stay without their mobiles and laptops,” said Nilesh Gupta, managing director, Vijay Sales. Work and study from home drove consumption for large screen phones and laptops, said Gupta.

More consumers have felt the need to upgrade to better television sets as Indians turned to Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime and other OTT platforms leading to a surge in content consumption.

On Wednesday, Samsung launched its 2020 smart TV line-up to build on the content consumption trend, and offer consumers the option to choose from a wide range of OTT platforms for an uninterrupted experience, said Raju Pullan, senior vice president, consumer electronics business, Samsung India.

Bajaj’s Poddar said that general trade channels i.e. standalone shops were preferred by shoppers, while modern trade outlets for electronics are struggling. Usha’s Baishakhia said the company saw a 100% jump in online channels.

Poddar is unsure whether demand will sustain in July as rising infection rates in several states lead to more strict lockdowns.

“That may dampen demand and supplies as movement of goods could be tricky,” he said.

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