Mini-lockdowns and movement restrictions across India have disrupted supplies and pushed up prices of some essential goods, even though availability remains better than last year when hoarding and broken supply chains led to severe shortages.
Several consumers reported delayed deliveries, even as fear and anxiety boosted demand for products such as cooking oils, pulses, sanitisers, masks and oximeters.
Ashmit Dalal in Mumbai’s Andheri said staff shortage at kirana stores is leading to delays and cancellations. In Maharashtra, store timings are limited to 7am-11am, with home delivery allowed up to 8pm.
Priyanka Singh in Mulund, too, said BigBasket was delivering only every two days in her area, though hyperlocal e-commerce platforms like BBdaily, Frazzo and Supr Daily were quicker.
Neha Grover in New Delhi said prices of fruits and vegetables were up in the last few days. Grover has been relying on HalloBasket, an online marketplace for fruits and vegetables, for her large family. Grover, who lives in Greater Noida, said finding tender coconut water was tough. Across markets, the price of tender coconut has risen from ₹35-40 to ₹80 per piece in the last few days, vendors said.
Customers also reported delays in online delivery orders across platforms such as Grofers, BigBasket and Amazon, especially in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai.
Vaishali Choudhury in Noida complained about not finding stocks in her neighbourhood supermarket.
“The second covid wave has led to a surge in orders across cities on our platform. In view of the pandemic situation, we had worked on increasing our capacity and building infrastructure throughout last year and also in early 2021. As a result, BigBasket is making deliveries in all our operating cities, albeit with extended timelines in some cities due to unexpectedly high demand and movement curbs,” a BigBasket spokesperson said.
Indians aren’t hoarding like last year when supply chains snapped entirely.
Though large companies are ensuring supplies, consumers are facing intermittent challenges in areas under lockdowns as mobility is restricted and demand for essentials is up.
In parts of Delhi and Chandigarh, distributors and wholesalers said prices of mustard oil are up by 10-15%, while that of pulses and rice were up 8-10% over the last few days. Certain brands of cooking oils are in short supply, said a wholesaler.
“Edible oils have been seeing price hikes in the past two quarters; some increase in milk and wheat (prices) happened earlier, too. On the fresh produce side, price hikes are very local and not pan-India. Localised enhanced demand has come up and is creating some opportunistic approach from some suppliers,” said Akshay D’Souza, chief marketing officer at Bizom, a retail intelligence platform that tracks grocery sales across retail stores.
At Narang Chemist in New Delhi, supplies of sanitisers are intact, but the owner fears supplies could be delayed for everything over the coming days. On e-commerce platforms, the price of some oximeter models went up in the last five days from ₹1,999 to ₹2,499.
Lata Jha contributed to the story.