COVID-19 Extended Lockdown: Consumers struggle with AC and gadget repairs, finding equipment for online school classes of children as products and services stay shut
- • 40% households need a gadget repair; 50% households need an AC or refrigerator repair
- • While service technicians are permitted, they may not be able to fix ACs, given supplies shutdown
- • 43% households need office/school supplies while 33% say they need a gadget
24th April 2020, New Delhi: After 4 weeks of lockdown over and around 10 days more to go, people are now getting a bit restless. Not because they are unable to stay at home, but because they are running out of many things which have not been tagged as perceived essential goods or services by the Ministry of Home Affairs but are essential for many consumers to carry on with their daily lives.
With the onset of the summer season, there are various thing that the consumers need to carry on with their daily routines. LocalCircles conducted a survey to get a citizen pulse on what are the various non-essential products and services they are likely to procure if allowed by the Government. The survey received 17,000+ responses from across the country.
Pent up consumer needs for Repair Services during Extended Lockdown: 50% households need AC or Fridge repair; 40% need a gadget repaired
The Ministry of Home Affairs via its April 15th notification has permitted service technicians (air conditioner & refrigerator, other white goods, appliance, gadget repairs etc.) to provide their services from April 20th. The next question asked consumers what kind of services do they need urgently. In response, 18% said AC or refrigerator repair, 11% said other white goods, appliance repairs, and 11% said gadget repairs like mobiles, laptops etc. 8% said both AC/refrigerator and other white goods/appliance repairs, 5% said other white goods/appliance repairs and gadget repairs like mobiles, laptops etc. Another 5% said AC or refrigerator repair and gadget repairs like mobiles, laptops etc. while 19% said they needed technicians for all of the above. 23% said they don’t need any of these rights now.
Despite the Government permission, in most large cities, such service technicians are still not permitted because of the red zone or containment zone restrictions being applicable. Even if the service technicians are permitted in green zone areas, consumer and business feedback on LocalCircles indicates that they will be able to do little without supplies. For instance, to repair most of the air conditioners and refrigerators, freon gas is required. The gas is imported from Thailand and China with the Daryaganj market in Delhi being one of the primary distribution points for India. Daryaganj has been identified as one of the hotspots and completely shut thereby leading to zero supply situation at majority of the dealers. Hence the technician can do little in getting the AC or fridge back to service. It is therefore critical that along with the respective technicians the associated supplies are also added in the essential services list.
The MHA advisory issued on the 15th of April gave some respite to the Indian consumers as it indicated that e-commerce companies were allowed to deliver non-essential items including mobile phones, refrigerators, television etc. starting April 20th. The Government then revised the same and released a notification on April 19th, saying that delivery of non-essential goods will not be allowed through ecommerce platforms.
Pent up consumer needs during Extended Lockdown: 43% households need office/school supplies; 33% say they need a gadget
The second question asked if ecommerce platforms deliver products, what school/work/home related items would they or their family order. 5% said they will order gadgets like laptops, tablets, mobile, printer etc. while 13% said they will order office/school supplies like chargers, cartridge, paper, books, stationary etc. 5% said they would order white goods and appliances like AC, cooler, refrigerator etc. 12% said they would order both gadgets and office/school supplies, 4% said office/school supplies and white goods & appliances, 2% said gadgets & white goods, while 14% said they will order gadgets, office/school supplies as well as white goods & appliances. 45% said they do not need any of these services currently.
With most people working from home and schools imparting online classes, thousands of consumers on LocalCircles have expressed a desire to be able to procure basic gadgets and office & school supplies so that no hinderance arises to their work and their children’s online classes. Because of the sudden lockdown announcement by the states post Janata Curfew on Sunday, March 22nd and offices closed on Monday, March 23rd, many professionals could not even could get their laptops home. Many parents in a separate LocalCircles survey shared how they were managing Work from Home and online classes for two school gooing children from home with one laptop and were desperate to get another laptop or tablet.
While upon repeated submissions from LocalCircles, the MHA has added textbooks and electric fans in the essentials list, other items like laptop, tablets, stationery etc have not found their place on the essentials list yet. With the temperature soaring in most parts of India, items like AC, cooler, fridge etc. are also now on the top of people’s immediate buying list.
LocalCircles will be submitting a copy of this report on behalf of the consumers to various Government stakeholders, and make a request to expand the essentials list based on the products and services outlined here in.