Festivals amidst a pandemic: Huge boost for online festive shopping


A shift in consumer behaviour usually takes years. And online shopping was no different, until the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with the festive season, the pandemic seems to have ‘fast-forwarded’ a shift in shopping habits as most people do not want to go out due to fear of the virus. Leading this wave is India’s tech capital Bengaluru.

Asha Channegowda, a placement officer at Maharishi Markandeshwar (D) University in the city, said, “I bought clothes for my daughter, saris for my mother, puja items and lamps from online retailers.”

There is a clear spike in the number of online orders in the city. For instance, homes here, would make one or two online purchases a month until March. But during June and July, the number of such purchases spiked. Some online deals were attractive compared to their offline counterparts. But, more than that ‘deals’, ‘convenience & safety’ drove the trend, according to industry experts.

B.S. Murthy, an industry expert and CEO of Leadership Capital, said, “A behavioural change usually takes years to happen, but the pandemic brought in an instant change in buyer habits. In every family, children, parents and grandparents contributed equally to this change because no one wants to go out and shop.”

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Malathi Chettiyar, a home-maker and teacher, taught herself how to order online only after the pandemic. “My husband was the only one who shopped online, and that, too, maybe a few times a year. Today, I have multiple deliveries coming home every day. Our children shop for games, pastries, pasta, cakes, desserts, ice creams on their own. My in-laws too make their purchases online with the help of grandchildren,” she said.

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It’s not just festive shopping that’s driving traffic. Over the past few months, e-tailer Flipkart witnessed a nearly 26-time increase in demand for health safety products such as thermometers and oximeters. Demand for household appliances, such as microwaves, has increased by four times on the platform. This period also saw an impressive growth in the adoption of work-from-home essentials, such as laptops and office furniture, which grew 2.3 and 3 times, respectively.

Software engineer Vishal Ketaki said, “I hardly go out. I run my errands and pay utility bills online. I get laundry and tailored stuff picked up.”

According to Pavan Padaki, branding and consumer insights consultant, customers experimented with online shopping and door delivery services for safety reasons. Over time, significant numbers converted to regular customers owing to the convenience factor.

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Sagar Biswas

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