Retailers Say They Have Enough Stock If There Is No Panic Buying
Various products made by Hindustan Unilever Ltd., including Lux soap, Surf Excel detergent and Dove Shampoo, sit for sale on a store shelf in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg News)

Retailers Say They Have Enough Stock If There Is No Panic Buying


Retailers on Wednesday said there is enough stock of essential items and groceries if people do not resort to panic buying, while some organised players put caps on items that a consumer can purchase during the lockdown.

Future Group and V-Mart have put in place systems to prevent panic buying at their neighbourhood grocery stores. "Availability was not the issue but the supply chain was impacted (due to the lockdown). The government has got into the picture and they are enabling the supply chain to happen," Retailers Association of India Chief Executive Officer Kumar Rajagopalan told PTI.

He further said,"The supplies are actually getting regularised with the government helping. If people do not do panic buying, there is enough stock and there is no problem." V-Mart, which operates mainly in tier-II and -III cities, said it has not faced supply issues but has put in place restrictions on how much can a consumer buy.

"We are currently operating around 25 stores in the lockdown, which are mainly in states such as UP and Bihar. Though we have supply, we have put restrictions over the quantity of purchase," V-Mart Retail Chairman and Managing Director Lalit Agarwal said.

The company has capped purchases on several items. For instance, a customer can buy only 20 kg rice, 10 kg atta, 4 kg pulses, 12 packets of biscuits of a single type and noodles, and 5 Kg sugar. Future Group too has put several restrictions at its neighborhood food and grocery store chain Easyday Club.

As per the restrictions, a person can not buy more than two packets of 10kg atta, five pieces of 100 gm butter, two packets of ghee (1 kg),5 litres of mustard and soya oil, 10 kg of sugar and not more than 5 kg of rice and pulses. However, the company has not put any such restrictions at its big format Big Bazaar stores, where it is dispensing only essential items following the government's decision to impose a lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

FMCG players like Hindustan Unilever Ltd., ITC Ltd., Dabur India, Parle Products, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., and Jyothy Laboratories Ltd. have flagged the availability of workers at factories and trucks for transportation as the biggest challenges for their supply chain. However, they have said there are adequate stocks for up to two to three weeks and the situation has improved following government intervention to allow plant operations and movement of trucks.

"These are difficult times and from our perspective, we are doing everything to get our production and our distribution running to make sure that the consumer gets the products which are essential for their day to day life," HUL Chief Financial Officer Srinivas Phatak said.

He further said some of the operations of the company have been impacted by the lockdown but "we are also hopeful that the various measures which the government is initiating and many of our products really being essential goods, we hope to see the situation improve as we go along."

Similarly, Dabur India Executive Director-Operations Shahrukh Khan said, "The situation has eased a bit with approvals for plant operations and movement of trucks coming in. These have eased some of the big bottlenecks that the industry was facing for movement of raw materials, packing materials and finished products. It would certainly help in kickstarting the functioning of the supply chain."

ITC also said it has been working closely with state authorities and local administration to ensure that manufacturing and distribution activities continue uninterrupted with minimum people. It would take a few more days for the entire ecosystem and processes to be streamlined for the movement of essential goods, it added. Likewise, Parle Products had also said that despite only 50 percent of workers allowed, production has been managed through shift systems to ensure that its products remain available.

Also read: U.S. Existing-Home Sales Remain Solid Amid Scarce Inventory

Jyothy Labs Ltd. Joint Managing Director Ullas Kamath had said the company's inventory level was comfortable with 2-3 weeks of stock. However, truckers body All India Motor Transport Congress said only 5 percent of the around 90 lakh trucks across India are plying on the roads at the moment due to shortage of drivers and labourers at loading and unloading points due to the nationwide lockdown, thereby severely hampering transportation of goods.

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