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4.80 lakh in Jan from 24 lakh in July — sanitiser sales drop as ‘Covid complacency’ sets in

Data by a lobby of over 8.5 lakh chemists show sanitiser sales kept falling after registering a peak in July. Experts blame the trend on Covid complacency.

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New Delhi: With Covid-19 pandemic showing signs of receding in India, sanitisers are not  selling like hot cakes anymore and its demand is not even half of what it was last year.

According to data by research firm AIOCD-AWACS, sales of sanitisers have fallen by 80 per cent in the last six months.

All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) is an apex lobby of over 8.5 lakh chemists across India. AIOCD-AWACS is the research wing of the lobby. Their data has been accessed by ThePrint.

The sale of sanitisers hit the peak in July 2020, according to the AIOCD data, when chemists sold more than 24 lakh bottles against 99,000 bottles in March 2020 — posting a record jump of more than 2,300 per cent in sales.

The jump came in the backdrop of India recording a sharp hike of 183 per cent in Covid cases — from 18,641 cases on 30 June to 52,783 cases on 30 July. 

However, in January 2021, the sales fell to 4.80 lakh bottles — posting a fall of 80 per cent from the peak in July.

By Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
By Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Online retailers have echoed similar observations and trends. 

“From our peak of June-July, we have seen 70-80 per cent drop in our volumes as of January. The drop in the sales of masks and sanitisers is almost in direct proportion to the drop in Covid cases pan-India,” Amit Tandon, vice-president, brands and category, PharmEasy, told ThePrint.

Another online platform, 1MG, said the sale of both masks and sanitisers spiked in the months of April and May and from there, it was a gradual decline — from June to August.

“Post that, the sales were quite stable, but they saw a dip in January for around 40 per cent as against the sales in November to December,” said Ankur Gigras, senior vice-president, B2C businesses at 1MG. 

The AIOCD data showed that brick and mortar chemists have sold more than one crore bottles of sanitisers in the last 11 months.

Overall, since March — when Covid cases started picking pace — to January, their sales are up by more than 380 per cent. 

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

Also read: Hand sanitiser-related eye injuries rose 7-fold among children in 2020, French study finds

‘Falling sales show Indians lowering their guard’

Experts, meanwhile, justified the fall in the sale of masks saying that Indians have started using reusable masks. However, the fall in the sales of sanitisers has been linked to people’s complacency.

Rajiv Singhal, general secretary, AIOCD, said “the fall in the sales of one of the most essential tools against Covid shows that complacency is setting in”.

“For masks, the culture of buying surgical or N-95 masks is waning. For daily use purposes, people have started buying reusable, washable masks,” he said.

Tandon from PharmEasy agreed. “One of the reasons for the drop in sales of masks is the use of reusable masks.”

“While there is a clear reason that a lot of people were buying (both masks and sanitisers) in April and May as Covid was starting to spread, the reason for the January-dip is not that clear. Most likely, it’s because there is a general feeling that Covid is over and people are lowering their guard,” said Gigras from 1MG.

By Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
By Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

Sanitisers’ sale plummeted despite surging Covid cases 

The data from AIOCD showed Indians brought more than one crore bottles of sanitisers in the last 11 months, starting March.

While the jump in cases continued — 78,512 cases on 30 August, 86,821 cases on 30 September before falling to 46,963 on 30 October — the sales of sanitisers kept falling after July.

In August, sales fell to 15.74 lakh bottles, followed by 13.61 lakh bottles in September, 9.85 lakh in October, 6.31 lakh in November, 5.44 lakh in December and 4.80 lakh in January.

Also read: Hand sanitiser makers under govt scanner after complaints of ‘substandard’ products


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