COVID 19 ratcheted up spends on Food & Essential commodities for majority of urban Indian households: Ipsos Cost of Living Survey

Expensive items & Spending-more-time-at-home biggest culprits is upping spends

The author(s)

  • Madhurima Bhatia Media Relations and Content lead
Get in touch

The Ipsos Cost of Living Survey shows a major jump in spends on food, essential commodities and services for most urban Indian households, after COVID19 struck and across markets it has been a different scenario, though global citizens (60%) too reported a spike in spends.

Argentina (81%), Mexico (81%), South Africa (81%) and Turkey (80%) – saw the highest surge in spends on food and essential commodities after the onset of COVID19, while some markets like South Korea and Japan have been least impacted. 

It is not that the food items became dearer, making the budgets hit the roof. The consumers per se  have been turning to food for comfort and mood elevation to fight the lockdown blues and the household budgets have been redirected to food in the absence of other forms of entertainment and lack of avenues and outlets for recreation and rejuvenation. Also supply and distribution constraints may have forced consumers to buy large packs or upgrade to an expensive brand in absence of full choice,” said Amit Adarkar, CEO Ipsos India.

How India stacks up vis-à-vis Global Spends

Majority of global citizens and urban Indians have been shelling out most for groceries and food. Though urban Indians also claim to be spending more on healthcare and utilities, since the onset of COVID 19. 


Increase in Spends



Groceries & food






Personal Care & Beauty Products
























Education & Childcare




The survey findings reveal rejigging of priorities during COVID 19 and lockdown. Everything has centred around one’s home, the safe cocoon for nourishment, comfort, entertainment and joy, during the bleak period. Emphasis on frequent hand wash and sanitiser usage, active interest in immunity enhancing products led to hitherto unbudgeted health related expenses,” added Adarkar.

Biggest culprits – Expensive items & Spending-more-time-at-home

57% of urban Indians polled claim to have chosen more expensive items during lockdown and 47% urban Indians blame being at home as the reason for increase in spends. In fact, India is not alone – at least 50% of global citizens polled and those in Peru (78%), Mexico (72%), Chile (72%), Argentina (68%), South Africa (65%), Belgium (64%), Great Britain (58%), France (57%), Malaysia (57%), Brazil (56%), Hungary (53%), Canada (52%), US (52%), Turkey (52%) have been expending on more expensive items to beat the lockdown blues! 

Consumers are looking for trade-offs – lack of opportunities for eating out and entertainment has led to indulgence, to infuse happiness. With the lockdown, the opportunity to spend on ‘experiences’ such as mall hopping, eating out, meeting over tea or coffee, watching a movie in a multiplex was non-existent. This may have led to a redefinition of consumption basket,” commented Adarkar.   

In fact, 1 in 4 Indians (28%) claim to have purchased new and better goods and services during the lockdown. 

About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted between May 22 and June 5, 2020. The survey instrument is conducted monthly in 26 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting herein are  Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.

 For the results of the survey presented herein, an international sample of 17,997 adults aged 18-74 in the US, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey and Canada, and age 16-74 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls are  calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.1 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.

16 of the 26 countries surveyed online generate nationally representative samples in their countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and United States). Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey produce a national sample that is more urban & educated, and with higher incomes than their fellow citizens.  We refer to these respondents as “Upper Deck Consumer Citizens”. They are not nationally representative of their country.

The author(s)

  • Madhurima Bhatia Media Relations and Content lead

More insights about Consumer Goods

Consumer & Shopper