In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and persistent concerns, 85 percent of Indian consumers prefer online shopping over physical shops, says PIPLSAY. Consumer Confidence Tracker.
In a first-of-its-kind survey, CNBC-TV18 in partnership with PIPLSAY. polled about 10,000 people and 54 percent of people say that their online shopping has increased considerably amid the pandemic, while 15 percent continue to prefer offline purchases.
Among the latter, men (68 percent) outdo women (32 percent) with a considerable margin. Among the age groups, about 50 percent of 18 to 30-year-olds say their online shopping has increased considerably as compared to 33 percent of 31 to 40-year-olds.
Coming to the travel industry, 67 percent of respondents say that their travel plans for the year got impacted, with 29 percent having had to cancel their travel bookings. However, with travel restrictions now having eased, a good 59 percent of people plan to start traveling, with some (16 percent) even looking forward to leisure trips. While south leads with its plans for leisure trips (39 percent), people in the north (36 percent) seem most keen to get back to their business travels.
Given the ongoing pandemic, about 22 percent of people surveyed said that they might not feel safe traveling this entire year. In comparison, 26 percent said it would take another 2-3 months before they start traveling fearlessly again, with 53 percent among them being youngsters in the age group of 18-30 years. This general reluctance to travel means brands will have to go the extra mile, both in their actions and messaging, to ensure the safety of their customers and allay their fears.
In terms of travel preferences, domestic travel remains a priority for about 43 percent of people surveyed, though 27 percent would be comfortable with both domestic and international travel this year. Another 10 percent of people, however, seem most comfortable with international travel only, possibly trusting their seriousness regarding safety policies more.
Back to Office
With regards to returning to work, over half of the respondents surveyed (53 percent) feel comfortable resuming work with adequate precautions. This trend is more visible (70 percent) in younger people (18 to 35 years) in comparison to those above the age of 35. However, a good 33 percent of people are still not comfortable venturing out of home for work, possibly due to the rising number of cases and the absence of a vaccine.
When it comes to taking public transport amid the pandemic, while 40 percent of people are simply not comfortable using the regular bus, metro, or cab services, another 22 percent do not plan on taking public transport anytime soon. This despite government and private transport bodies ensuring regular sanitization, social distancing, and limiting the number of passengers per trip. While it may take a long time for people to get back to normal, stepping up efforts to dispel fear and building trust can help bridge this gap a little.
With regards to visiting public places like markets, gyms, and salons, a large number of people (75 percent) are still quite apprehensive about mingling in crowded spaces. Still, about 25 percent of people, especially men and those in the age groups of 18-25 years seem keen to head out to these places soon as they reopen, which has begun slowly in most states under Unlock 2.0. Surprisingly, those in the East (12 percent) are least interested in venturing out immediately, while people in the South (40 percent) are most keen.
Post the three months of strict lockdown, a good 45 percent of people have already started socialising or would be comfortable doing so in a month or so. 34 percent of people continue to remain cautious and have no intention of mingling with family and friends anytime soon.
With no scope of eating out amid the lockdown, a good 27 percent of people have already started ordering take-outs/home deliveries with 18 to 25-year-olds (40 percent) leading the trend. Among regions, South India continues to lead, followed by the North. But in what may come as bad news to the restaurant industry, a good 53 percent of people do not seem comfortable eating outside food for another two months, at least.
Reopening of Schools and Colleges
On the reopening of schools and colleges by August, surprisingly, only 34% of people surveyed seemed entirely against the idea of schools reopening in the next few months, while 37 percent of people are actually keen to get their children back to the regular school routine. Is it because of the fear of missing out on an academic year or the trust in authorities to ensure their children's safety, is a question worth pondering. Among the regions, people in the north seem most convinced about getting back to school (37 percent) as compared to just 16 percent of people in the west.
Work From Home
A whopping 81 percent of respondents believe that they would be working remotely for another 1-2 months at least, with 22 percent among them hoping to work from home this entire year. Only 9 percent of the respondents, mostly men, said that they have started traveling for work. Among the age groups, 32 percent of 31 to 40-year-olds are looking forward to remote working for the next one-four months as compared to 14 percent of 45+ respondents. Working professionals from south India (40 percent ) are also most convinced about working from home this entire year, followed by 26 percent of professionals in the north and 22 percent in the west.
With so many respondents seeing themselves work from home for some more time, it is not surprising that a good 78 percent of them are investing in making their experience better and more comfortable. Another 14 percent say that their company has been investing in their well-being, be it by enrolling them in online classes of their choice or even by sending over work-related stationery and furniture right to their doorstep.
Regarding the trust factor, a good 46 percent of respondents seem to trust the travel and hospitality industry in general to follow all safety protocols amid the pandemic. Another 28 percent, however, seem a bit skeptical, trusting only the big brands to commit themselves seriously to customer safety. Youngsters in the age group of 18-35 years (68 percent ) seem to be more trusting of brands as compared to those above 35 years. In terms of regions, about 30 percent of people in the north and west and 34 percent in the south are unwilling to trust travel and hospitality brands with their safety.