Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)


- Suneera Tandon

NEW DELHI: The ongoing wave of Covid-19 infections has once again weakened consumer sentiment as Indian households lowered incomes and expenditur­e projection­s over the next six months.

This decline in sentiment is the steepest among the less affluent income groups or those with annual household income less than ₹5 lakh, said a survey of 4,000 Indian consumers by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted between May 23 to May 28.

The study, BCG’S sixth since the pandemic spread in India, spells uncertaint­y for more discretion­ary categories such as apparel, personal care, cosmetics, travel and out of home entertainm­ent.

The report highlighte­d that consumer anxiety is at its “highest levels” since the outbreak of pandemic; concerns around economic outlook, health, and lifestyle are accentuate­d.

In fact, 58% of those surveyed expect their incomes to decline in the next six months—this is “significan­tly higher” than the 44% reported in the July survey, it said. Meanwhile, 51% consumers expect their spends to shrink over the next six months—again higher than the previous surveys conducted by the firm.

Overall, 86% of those surveyed cited concerns over an economic recession due to the virus. Over 80% reported feeling some sense of uncertaint­y toward their jobs and business—the highest ever recorded by the consulting firm.

Last year’s cautious behaviour has been replaced by uncertaint­y and panic as India’s daily caseload spiralled as the country faced a more virulent Delta strain, said Nimisha Jain, managing director and partner, BCG India.

The report also corroborat­es The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) assessment of consumer confidence that fell to a record low in May as household perception­s about the economy and employment weakened.

Consumer mobility and sentiments had picked up earlier this year, with most firms reporting healthy business in the March quarter. This is especially true for retail and restaurant­s, that saw business dip in 2020.

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