International

India's Consumers Struggle To Overcome Virus Shutdown

In heavily coronavirus-ravaged India, the people hit the hardest are those who have only just gotten into the middle class and those below them, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

Sales in everything from auto parts to shampoo have declined, WSJ reported, and the tight lockdowns in the country have done little to alleviate the issue. The shutdowns and fears of the virus caused India's gross domestic product (GDP) to fall by around 20 percent in the quarter ending in June as opposed to last year.

Vivek Kaul, an economist and author writing about the issue of debt in the country, said people have "realized the fragility of their situations and acted accordingly," and added that he didn't think economic growth would return to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, according to WSJ.

While the economy in India hadn't been doing great before the pandemic, there was hope that consumers could reverse debt burdens and gain more confidence, WSJ reported. But the virus changed all of that; India now leads the world in documented coronavirus cases, and spending, as such, has been heavily dampened.

Smartphone shipments fell 51 percent year over year in the quarter ending in June, more than double the rate that it happened in the rest of the world, WSJ reported, citing a study from Counterpoint Research. And the company that operates most of India's McDonald's locations has seen a 75 percent downfall in sales in the last quarter.

Meanwhile, savings have increased as even those who haven't experienced economic difficulties expect a downturn, according to WSJ.

The shutdowns hit Indian women especially hard in the economic department, offsetting years of gains made for women in employment in the country. Forty-one percent of women, according to a report from the United Nations, faced a risk of getting their hours cut or losing their jobs entirely, compared to 35 percent of men in the same predicaments.

However, apps like eWe (Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurship) have taken it upon themselves to help with that through aiding women in getting new jobs and training.

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