It came. It spread. It conquered.
Ever since Wuhan reported its patient zero for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in November, 2019, the world has not been able to heave a sigh of relief. The virus has penetrated and continues to penetrate into receptacles of almost every country you can name – the burden being distributed asymmetrically. The streets have been deserted, flights and trains have been suspended, companies have come to a standstill, and the common man has been trapped inside the four walls of his own house – for a period of time that even the highest authorities are unable to state. Quarantine and social distancing have taken the role of those uninvited guests in our day-to-day life, who barge inside without a knock. Hygiene and sanitisation practices have taken birth as a new religion, while people all around are going frenzy over immunity boosting techniques. As healthcare and pharma giants worldwide struggle to find a potential cure, SMEs and start-ups are also joining forces and working round-the-clock amid this invisible battle – or rather microscopically-visible battle. Albeit, keeping the possibility of mass commercial availability of a viable vaccine at bay, let us break down and scrutinise the consequences of this pandemic on businesses – sector by sector.
Contrary to most sectors, Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry has been an unlikely gainer from the outbreak. Panic buying has increased consumption in FMCG sector across the globe. Consumers have been hoarding basic food items such as milk, curd, rice, flour, oil, and lentils; snacking items such as biscuits, chips, spaghetti, and soups; as well as personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, sanitary napkins, shaving creams, handwashes, and sanitisers, due to fear of a lockdown. Moreover, online grocery platforms are witnessing a huge influx of buyers as they are avoiding brick-and-mortar stores amid the contagion. E-commerce platforms have been complaining of running out of stocks for necessities especially products such as handwashes and hand sanitisers. This has led to FMCG companies stepping up production to keep up with the demand. Talking of India, Amul has increased its production by over 20 per cent in order to meet the increased demand. Godrej Consumer has shelved its plans to increase soap prices and is instead going all out to increase production and cater to increased demand. Similarly, ITC has doubled production across its food and personal care business to ensure availability. However, paradoxically, experts have predicted that ramping up production may not result in higher revenue growth for manufacturers in the long run.