REVIVING ECONOMY 5: Consumer durables demand gains momentum post unlock

The consumer durable market a major driver of the economy has started showing some obvious signs of demand coming back after the lockdown restrictions were lifted.

At a time when government stimulus has not been large enough to pull the economy out of the pandemic-induced slump, there is a hope that the consumer demand would ultimately come to the rescue of the economy.

Sector players have reported growth in sales numbers in the months after the lockdown was lifted.

Gurmeet Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India said: “Post the announcement of ‘Unlock’ we have seen some revival in our business. Since the beginning of the lockdown consumer sentiments were positive for air conditioners, refrigerators, and other utility-based consumer appliances considering the need for comfort and automation at homes.”

He noted that spending has gone up in these areas boosting demand for air conditioners as well. Consumer’s intent to spend across selective categories has started the sales recovery during the ‘unlock’ process, Singh told IANS.

Whirlpool’s Vice President for Marketing, K.G. Singh noted that initially after unlock started there was an unleashing of the pent-up demand and as ‘work from home’ became an established norm later, consumers started buying appliances that could add to their comfort level and ease their pain from household chores.

Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO, Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, Kodak’s brand licensee said: “For Kodak TV India, we have seen a huge spike post unlock, and were able to recover 65 per cent of the lost sales in the first phase itself. The demand since then has been on a rise, especially with the new product launches which cater to changing demands of the customer.”

According to data collated by CMS Info Systems, a cash management and payment solutions company, retail spending in India increased by 12 per cent in September compared to August.

Consumer durables formed a significant part of the retail sales last month, the data showed.

The upcoming festival season brings about more hope for the segment both from the online and offline modes.

Marwah told IANS that the company is hopeful that the demand will sustain through the year, especially with the upcoming festive season.

“With the festive season and new consumer patterns set within new norm rules, we are very hopeful that this demand will sustain for a longer period,” said Gurmeet Singh.

Whirlpool’s K.G. Singh was of the view that there will likely be a penetration increase for categories like washers and microwaves which are now seen as essentials in several households.

Industry, however, expects complete recovery to come in 2021. The MD of Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning India said that complete recovery might take some time and he hopes that next year, the company may cross the 2019 levels.

“We are confident that the market will certainly do better in the 2021 calendar year,” he said.