Smartphone retailers, ET spoke to, said markets are more crowded than usual, mainly to stock essentials, but consumers are getting hands on affordable smartphones and laptops for fear of any disruption in school examinations.
“There is unexpectedly higher footfall today on account of certain panic buying,” head of Ahmednagar district mobile retailer association said. “Laptops are majorly in demand but short in supply so consumers are resorting to smartphones for now. We are expecting a good sellout of some end of life models today.”
However, Tier 1 cities like Mumbai and Pune are relatively calmer where consumers are well accustomed to online shopping by now, retailers said.
“There are rumours circulating on Whatsapp that the weekend restrictions will be extended to weekdays as well till April 30,” said Vibhooti Prasad, president, Mumbai mobile retailers’ welfare association.
“But that hardly matters now because customers have already stopped venturing out in Mumbai and wholly depending on online deliveries,” he added.
“The virus spread doubt is worst in mumbai… even if stand-alone shops are allowed to open the business seems not to improve much on the other hand the expenses for running the store is going to continue,” Manish Khatri, a Mumbai-based retailer and owner of Mahesh Telecom said.
The state has close to 12,000 mom-and-pop mobile phone stores which account for 10% of overall sales in India. Out of 150 million smartphones sold in calendar year 2020, 15 million were sold in Maharashtra, totalling roughly Rs 18,000 crore worth of sales, according to estimates by a leading market tracker.
Besides these, long-format retail chains such as Vijay Sales, Croma, Reliance Digital are anyways bracing up for loss of business as close to 50% of their showrooms are located inside malls or premium market complexes. Reliance Digital has 50 multi-brand electronics outlets in Maharashtra, whereas Vijay Sales and Croma have 45 each.
“…additional notification is still awaited from the local authorities in different cities. it is likely to come in today. We are not planning to open shops tomorrow…the guidelines notified are confusion in terms of staff vaccination. E-commerce is allowed, so we are continuing with that…the business has grown week-on-week because of new phone launches,” Ritesh Ghosal, CMO, Croma told ET.
“There is no official announcement yet for a complete lockdown,” a senior executive at Vijay Sales said. “But, I am sure the decision to purchase an electronic gadget is not instantaneous and any panic buying in that sense must be restricted to certain regions,” he said.
ET had reported that lengthy lockdowns can potentially wipe out the 9-month recovery in offline sales channel for smartphones which has just bounced back from record low market share of 49% in December quarter to 60% in January-February months. Business is already down 60% in Mumbai and Pune, but a 25-day absolute lockdown in the State could be a death-knell for certain stores and push many to unemployment.
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