India’s festival shoppers are willing to spend—as long as they can do it from their homes

Taking the shop to the shopper.
Taking the shop to the shopper.
Image: REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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India’s frenzied festival season is just around the corner, and Indians are ready to do their annual shopping. But not without caution.

Over 60% of Indian respondents in a recent survey said they would prefer some form of contactless shopping over physical stores, according to a survey by community-led social media platform LocalCircles of 21,000 respondents across 330 districts in the country.

Survey respondents also said they would buy from local weavers, artisans, and small businesses if these were available online.

This sentiment furthers the cause of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India), a call from prime minister Narendra Modi to India’s small businesses to rely on locally made products. This was a direct challenge to products imported from Chinese manufacturers, after tensions at the India-China border.

During the Hindu festival of Diwali, Indians buy lights and decorations, a large chunk of which typically comes from China.

This upbeat mood is good news for India’s medium- and small businesses, which were badly hurt by the harsh, over 70-day lockdown. Indian consumers feel that small stores, especially neighbourhood kirana shops going online will help their business, and, in turn, help the consumer shop safely.

Small businesses, though, have been wary of listing on e-commerce bigwigs such as Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart, alleging predatory pricing and unfair trade practices by the platforms.

If the kirana stores do go online, LocalCircle’s survey reveals a ready audience for them. Respondents said that they were willing to buy bakery items, mithai (Indian sweets), and gift boxes online, were they to be available.