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Sales of Sanitisers, Immunity Boosters Drop by Half as Covid Complacency Sets In After 2nd Wave

By: Himani Chandna

Edited By: Nitya Thirumalai

News18.com

Last Updated: October 05, 2021, 11:03 IST

Experts point to falling number of Covid cases and increase in vaccinations as reasons for the dipping sanitiser sales. (Representative image/Reuters)

Experts point to falling number of Covid cases and increase in vaccinations as reasons for the dipping sanitiser sales. (Representative image/Reuters)

According to industry data, sales of hand sanitisers fell from Rs 77.5 crore in May, the peak of the second Covid wave in India, to Rs 47 crore in August, a fall of almost 40%.

The sales of sanitisers and multivitamins, two items that flew off the shelves since the Covid-19 outbreak, have significantly dropped in recent months, data analysed by News18.com showed, indicative of the complacency setting in among the pandemic-weary public.

According to industry data, sales of hand sanitisers fell from Rs 77.5 crore in May, the peak of the second Covid wave in India, to Rs 47 crore in August, a fall of almost 40%.

The data has been corroborated for News18.com by AIOCD-AWACS, the research wing of the AlI India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), which is an apex lobby of over 9.5 lakh chemists across India.

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As per the data, sanitiser sales had jumped over 400% in May this year compared to the same month last year when the country was under lockdown. The total number of Covid cases in India hovered around 43,000 last May, while this year the second wave peaked at 4,14,188 new cases on May 6.

In September last year, when India witnessed the most cases in the first wave, the sale of sanitisers had zoomed by more than 2,400% compared to the same month the previous year when the world was three months away from the first novel coronavirus case in China’s Wuhan.

Multivitamins, too, have registered a similar drop in sales. To build immunity, Indians had purchased more than 185 crore pills of Vitamin C supplements in 2020, a growth of over 100% compared to 2019. The trend continued in 2021, but as the second wave wore off, sales slowed down. Multivitamin sales posted growth of less than 5% after the second wave ended.

Experts point to falling number of Covid cases and increase in vaccinations as reasons for the dipping sales. On Tuesday, India reported 18,346 new Covid cases, the lowest single-day rise in 209 days. The country has so far administered 90 crore vaccines.

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Speaking to News18.com, Sheetal Sapale, President (Marketing) at AIOCD-AWACS, said panic buying and “hoarding” seen during the initial days of the pandemic outbreak has died down.

“The sales of santisers and multivitamins had zoomed during the first and second waves. However, the data shows that the sales have started going down after crossing the peak of second wave in May. While people continue to be careful about the hygiene aspect, the paranoia has died down. Hence, there is no hoarding of products which used to happen because of the fear factor,” she said.

“Also, the vaccination drive in the country has picked up, which means majority of Indians have taken at least one shot of Covid-19 vaccine. This has created a general sense of protection against Covid in the recent times,” she added.

Sanitiser Sales

According to the data corroborated by AIOCD, Himalaya’s Pure Hands is the top-selling sanitiser brand. In March 2019, its revenue stood at Rs 2.2 crore which increased to Rs 3.3 crore in March 2020, post the Covid-19 outbreak in India. By September 2020, when the first wave peaked, its revenue grew to Rs 49.3 crore.

It then soared to Rs 59.1 crore in May 2021, during the peak of the second wave. However, by August 2021, its sales plummeted to Rs 33.9 crore.

A similar trend was spotted after the first wave ended when overall sanitiser sales fell by 80%, from 24 lakh units in July to 4.80 lakh units in January.

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The data cited by AIOCD-AWACS only includes offline sales of sanitisers via chemists. It does not include sales through online pharmacies, or non-pharmacy or general retail stores.

However, online healthcare platforms too have reported sharp drops in sales of sanitisers.

“In June, there was a significant decline (40%) in the sales of masks and sanitisers compared to April and May (which were the peak Covid times). This correlation is a good indicator of receding Covid wave and suggests that the perils and mayhem caused during the Covid second wave are hopefully past us, for now at least. After June, sales of sanitisers continue to fall while masks are more or less stable,” Prateek Verma, vice-president of product category at 1MG, an online platform, told News18.com.

Pause in Sale of Multivitamins

The sale of multivitamins had risen sharply in 2020 as building immunity became the new mantra in protection against Covid-19. Apart from the slowdown in sales shown by the AIOCD data, analysis by another research firm, Pronto Consult, which specialises in doctor-perception studies and pharma market insights in India and West Asia, spotted a similar trend.

Its report released in September said that in June 2020, around 92% of medical bills had at least one immunity booster (a nutraceutical or an AYUSH product). The percentage fell to 31% in August.

Products containing zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D3, honey, chyawanprash, ginger, morninga, oleifera, probiotics, green tea, amla, haldi and karela had seen an increase in sales during various phases of the Covid-19 outbreak.

“With the second wave slowing down, retailers mention that consumers of immunity boosters have gone down in numbers. But they also feel that if we enter the third wave, the sales will increase again,” the report said.

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first published:October 05, 2021, 10:59 IST
last updated:October 05, 2021, 11:03 IST