CONSUMERS may soon start buying “indulgent” products as lockdown restrictions ease around the country, Nielsen Philippines Managing Director John Patrick Cua said.

Nielsen, which interviewed partner-retailers on their experiences during the lockdown, noted their challenges in procuring ample stocks and in shipping goods to rural areas.

Mr. Cua in a webinar on Thursday said more consumers are shifting to shopping online and in nearby neighborhood stores, as movement of people was restricted and public transportation was unavailable during the lockdown.

“People will, if they can, they will shop less often and they will prioritize things for their safety. So rubbing alcohol, household cleaners, air fresheners. That’s what’s in their basket at the start of the (lockdown),” he said, noting that consumers focused on buying shelf-stable food and non-essential personal care products.

As the lockdown eases, consumers are expected to indulge in some retail therapy.

“We are coming out of lockdown and what we’re seeing in the other markets is slowly the indulgent products will recover and the other personal care will eventually recover because the consumer will look to reward themselves,” Mr. Cua said.

He said that retailers need to understand how shopping habits have changed due to the lockdown.

“Before, we always think it’s the head of the household, the mother that goes to shop. But during the time, kung sino ang may quarantine pass. It could be the father or the male shopper. We usually have the female shopper,” he said.

Mr. Cua said that supermarket shopping frequency has also changed, shifting from weekly shopping to payday or bi-monthly shopping.

He said retailers must improve supply chain inventory and digital presence, including on social media and Google Maps.

“Communicate that their store is safe for people to go,” he said.

Shopping mall operators have ramped up their health and safety protocols to reassure consumers who are still wary of going outside out of fear of getting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association President Steven T. Cua in May noted the strong demand for baking and cooking goods, as well as rubbing alcohol, disinfectants, and hair trimmers, during the lockdown.

He said inventories had been improving after initial logistics challenges as the transport of goods was hampered at checkpoints at the start of the lockdown. — J.P.Ibañez