Urban Indians think Covid situation in India is improving but worry about their personal finances
June 28th, 2021, Bhawna Singh

Urban Indians think Covid situation in India is improving but worry about their personal finances

Yougov’s Covid19 Consumer Monitor reveals changing consumer sentiment during the pandemic

Latest data from YouGov’s Covid19 Consumer Monitor, from 18th-23rd June, shows a majority of urban Indians (78%) think the covid situation in their country is getting better compared to a month ago or feel it is completely over. Confidence in national recovery has improved since April end when it had fallen to 17%, amidst a deadly second wave of Coronavirus. With subsequent lockdown restrictions and vaccination in full swing, this number has improved and now a majority are positive about recovery.

Even though people think the situation is getting better, seven in ten (71%) said they are worried about their personal finances getting affected because of the Covid outbreak. However, the biggest concern is its long lasting negative impact of on the society.

When asked about how their financial situation changed in the past 3 months, two in five respondents (40%) said it has worsened, while for nearly a third (32%) there has been no change. One in seven (14%) think their financial situation has improved in this duration and the rest are not sure.

While many (37%) think their financial situation may recover in the near future (between 1-6 months), the majority (51%) feel it may take longer (over 6 months or more than a year) until things look bright on the monetary front.

The view of economic recovery is less hopeful; with more than two in five (42%) saying India’s economy will be in recession or depression in twelve months’ time. Others are divided between expecting the economy to boom (24%) or remaining stable (19%).

Given the uncertain times and the looming worry about personal finances, it is not surprising to see urban Indians leaning towards savings for emergencies. Nearly a third of respondents (31%) are prioritizing safeguarding their current holdings or investments. A quarter (26%) plan to increase their investments with minimum or no risk while a fifth plan to do so despite risk involved (20%). Just as many (23%) have no particular investment strategy.

A majority have started investing in some financial instrument in the past 3 months and only a quarter are not investing at all. Life Insurance, Fixed Deposits, health insurance and mutual funds are the most popular instruments that urban Indians have newly started investing in. The pandemic has given a boost to many alternative avenues of investment and some people have started investing in cryptocurrencies (16%), E-gold (13%) and real estate (10%) during this time.

Looking ahead, two in five urban Indians (39%) intend to increase their monthly investments while three in ten (29%) plan to keep it the same. Only 18% plan to reduce their monthly investments.

Securing their family is the biggest reason for wanting to increase investments (as said by 56%). Many want to do so because they believe this is a good time to invest in the market (41%) or because they find it easy through invest through digital apps (38%). Those wanting to reduce are doing so mainly because of lower disposal income due to pay cuts (38%) or increased household expenditure (35%).

We took a deeper look into the grocery sector to see how the changing consumer sentiment has affected shopping within this category.

Grocery shopping: A deep dive

A look at urban Indians’ recent spending habits shows, expenditure on health and wellness products such as medicines, sanitisers, etc. has increased for a majority of people across both offline and online purchase channels (62% and 54% respectively) in the past two weeks. Large proportions also reported spending more on groceries across both.

When asked how often they have shopped for groceries in the past 2 weeks, 37% respondents claimed to make a purchase at least once a week. Just as many did so more often: several times a week (31%) or at least once a day (13%).

Amidst restrictions in the last 2 weeks, a majority (58%) preferred shopping for groceries offline by visiting a store or placing an order on phone. Having said that, a large proportion (42%) ordered online through delivery apps.

Among those who ordered groceries online, safety stood as the biggest reason for choosing this medium (63%), followed by convenience (51%).

On the other hand, flexibility to pay the local store at their convenience emerged as the top reason for not buying groceries online (as said by 36%), suggesting consumers are looking for hassle-free ways to shop without worrying about cash in hand.

This presents a great opportunity for online shopping platforms with ‘buy now pay later’ feature and they can encourage consumers to switch online by providing a convenient shopping experience amidst the pandemic.

Speaking about this Deepa Bhatia, General Manager, YouGov India, said, "Yougov’s Covid-trackers have been tracking public sentiment around the virus since last year when the pandemic first broke out in the world. In these uncertain and volatile times, data provides unique insights and direction to companies and organisations on how consumer behaviour is changing as the ground situation changes. A global crisis such as this will have unprecedented effects and its best to have a continuous stream of data to map expectations and plan better whilst keeping in mind how soon or late recovery is expected to happen.”

To know more about the Consumer monitor, click here.