A third of Indian shoppers have switched loyalties and begun purchasing from newer merchants for their grocery requirements after the COVID-19 outbreak, a survey by the a global consultancy has found. In what can cause some distress, more than a third of those who have switched to a newer merchant will not go back to their original shopkeeper, the survey by McKinsey said.

India has been under lockdown since March 25 in order to arrest the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The police have implemented the restrictions on movements sternly, with instances of hitting the wrongdoers being reported from across the country. The retail segment is one of the worst affected in the lockdown and has been seeking policy sops.The survey findings said proximity was the biggest driving factor for the shift to a new shop, followed by others who switched to online alternatives.A feeling of the regular store being unsafe or not infection free was the third cause of the change in behaviour, followed closely by better service at the new shop, it said.

Over 560 Indians participated in the global survey in the days leading to the national lockdown for the survey, when many parts of India like Maharashtra had already gone into a lockdown.Fresh food products availability, store location and crowd levels were marked out as key determinants by the Indian respondents when asked about factors that will help them.

The responses have suggested that in the days leading to the lockdown, the grocers have experienced a jump in sales and many of the consumers also pointed out shortages across categories of items, it said.Many of the consumers reported that they had to switch to newer brand alternatives, but nearly 90 per cent of them said they will go back to their preferred brand once the crisis is over, it said.