According to South India’s one of the largest ceramic tiles dealers, actual demand for tiles and sanitaryware at the ground level is far better than the expectation. This has actually surprised many dealers who were expecting a demand of 10% (of the normal) as they are now seeing more than 50% of the normal demand. Seeing the current trend, demand can reach 80% of the normal within few weeks.
However, demand scenario in South India is not necessarily the reflection of the situation prevailing in the entire country as that region is less dependent on migrant workers from North. On the other hand, Western region which is the largest market for the tiles is mostly dependent on migrant workers who are presently not available as they have gone back to their native villages. Further, cities like Mumbai and Ahmedabad which are the main centre for tiles are still reeling under pandemic and are being classified as Red zones where no construction activities are allowed.
However, according to this dealer, most of the demand is likely to emerge from tier 2 and 3 cities as they are less affected by COVID-19 and also by the absence of migrant workers. Furthermore, demand from the retail segment which accounts for 70% of the sales is likely to remain healthy as individual home buyers/owners are eager to complete the construction of their homes, whereas large projects are likely to suffer from liquidity squeeze and labour shortages.
Dealers are also observing change in the customer behaviour. According to the dealers, the number of visits required to make purchase decision has reduced from five–six earlier to one–two. This may be partly due to the fact that, customers are left hardly with few weeks to complete their work before the onset of monsoon. Nevertheless, this change in the behavioural pattern of the customers is helping the dealers push their products much faster than was the case earlier.