Kirana, or neighbourhood grocery, stores in Ayodhya have stocked up nearly 32% more daily household products and groceries in the first three weeks of January compared to a year ago, hoping for a boost in demand from people queuing up for the Ram temple inauguration. This is in sharp contrast to orders placed by mom-and-pop stores with FMCG companies across India, which remained flat during the period.
In fact, these stores have stocked even summer products, such as beverages, higher by 60% compared to a year ago, while inventory of chocolates, packaged food and branded commodities has gone up 23-52%, showed data compiled by retail intelligence firm Bizom.
“We are running out of stock at depot level given the surge in demand for food products, especially as sales will be driven by tourists and out-of-home consumption. We anticipate at least 25% growth in the area and are preparing to replenish the inventory to avoid stock-out at kirana level,” said Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head – marketing at Parle Products. “UP is the largest market for fast moving consumer goods companies and the potential of Ayodhya can be similar to Tirupati in the long run.”
In terms of categories, orders for beverages rose 60%, chocolates and confectionery 52% while branded commodities grew 30%. With demand expected to be largely driven by tourists and devotees, home care products stocking remained flat while personal care grew 11%.
Despite the winters, there has been a spike in placement for beverages, especially for fruit drinks, which have seen a 110% higher placement in anticipation of a strong increase in out-of-home consumption. Incense sticks or agarbattis saw a 77% jump, spices grew 56% while Indian namkeen or savoury stocks rose 42.7%.
“We are seeing keen anticipation of a rise in consumption in Ayodhya and this is evident as there is a spike in placement across many FMCG products. As we get closer to the temple opening date, we could see a further surge in placement with the expectation of a significant rise in footfalls,” said Akshay D’Souza, chief of growth and insights at Mobisy Technologies, which owns Bizom.
As devotees prepare to travel for the inauguration of the Ram temple built on the site Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, companies anticipate a rub-off effect on the highways leading to Ayodhya. For instance, Dabur said it is working closely with dhabas or roadside eateries on the highways from Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Varanasi leading to Ayodhya to ensure availability of brands such as Real juices and Hajmola digestives at these eateries.
“The Ram mandir consecration and the days after the Pran Pratishta will see millions of devotees and tourists coming to Ayodhya. To cater to the surge in demand for daily use essentials and health beverages, we have ramped up distribution of our products in the city,” said Mohit Malhotra, chief executive officer at Dabur.