Call of the mall – The Hindu

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As prospects return, a metamorphosis is going on. Across the nation, outlets are reimagining gross sales methods, premium areas are opening up, and open air is getting a fillip

As a young person, I usually teased my dad about how he shopped at a mall: he would go in with an inventory of issues to purchase (so as of precedence) and go to solely these shops. There was no window procuring; even dinner was slotted into this schedule. Fast ahead to now and, in a post-Covid world, I’m doing precisely the identical. The couple of instances I’ve been to Phoenix MarketCity, Chennai, I spent lower than an hour inside, shopping for nothing however what I wanted.

This is the brand new regular throughout the nation. Where as soon as we loitered and racked up our each day Fitbit step depend, the ambiance in malls now’s pure enterprise. Contactless automotive parking, UV bag scanners, sanitisation stations and temperature checks are par for the course. Every trade has been pressured to adapt with the intention to survive the pandemic, and the retail sector, together with mall promoters, isn’t any totally different. Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of the Retailers Association of India, says, “It is similar to the time when malls were new; customers had to be attracted with different promotions.”

Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, Shopping Centres Association of India, says that the collective has been inserting calls for to the federal government to strengthen the retail trade. “We’ve asked that financial institutions consider a moratorium period; a one-time loan restructuring with lower rates of interest for organised retail; short-term financing options; and GST rebates, among other things,” he explains. He provides that native and state governments can additional assist them bounce again by enjoyable state duties and taxes, waiving licensing charge and providing fastened electrical energy prices.

Recent surveys, together with one by multinational companies community Deloitte, point out that the long run lies in malls turning into mixed-use tasks, with “strong leisure and entertainment offerings that will help people find the social interaction they crave, especially now”. Food can be poised to turn out to be a sport changer, since eating out appeals to all buyer segments and can’t be replicated on-line. However, the following technology of meals choices will look past meals courts to improvements equivalent to “food halls featuring rising chefs or higher-profile restaurants clustered in common areas”.

On retailer design

  • Ashiesh Shah, architect-interior designer
  • “While most retail is happening online, brick and mortar will evolve. It is tough to shop luxury — suits for men or bridal lehengas — online. I think standalone stores will make a strong comeback. Stores that are larger, with more floor space and higher ceilings, will see a faster entry into the system.”
  • “I would rather go to a standalone store than a mall. In the former, I know footfalls won’t be crazy for no reason and that you can out the random window shopper.”
  • “In stores, ventilation is really important, with lots of natural light and as many open windows as you can manage. Store design should also look at quick and easy ways to incorporate and hide sanitisers, so it doesn’t become an eyesore. I would also make spaces more lively and open, rather than dark and claustrophobic.”

Meanwhile, nearer home, getting ready for patrons has been a mammoth job. Even as footfalls throughout malls hover across the 30% mark, each day/weekly operational prices have gone up by over 20%. Investment in tech and gear, together with apps and UV scanners, is as excessive as ₹50 lakh per property. But Rajendra Kalkar, President (West) – Phoenix Mills Ltd, explains that this funding is essential, as their first aim is confidence constructing. “Once people are comfortable with the idea of being in a mall, we will expand our offerings,” he says. This will embrace open-air procuring choices, which appears to be the way in which ahead. On the up aspect, as business house frees up (due to rents and different components), extra shops are opening. Uniqlo India simply launched two retailers — at DLF Avenue, Saket, and Vegas Mall, Dwaraka.

The upcoming festive season will likely be essential for malls to make up for his or her losses. The décor is already on level to tempt household selfies — equivalent to a 50-foot diya in Phoenix MarketCity’s central atrium — however what else can we anticipate? Team Weekend travels throughout cities to learn the way malls are faring, what individuals are shopping for, and if open-air procuring is profitable over new prospects.

A 50-foot diya in Phoenix MarketCity, Chennai  


When Express Avenue opened doorways on September 1, 210 of its 220 shops welcomed prospects. Chief Revenue Officer Munish Khanna credit this to their waiving total leases throughout lockdown (solely widespread space upkeep prices have been paid). “Now we have based rentals on sales percentages: if a store does 50% of the sales they did in October 2019, they can pay 50% of their rent,” he explains. As for footfalls, malls are seeing an upward development week on week. At VR Chennai, a spokesperson says, “Genuine shoppers are what footfalls are about and we are seeing healthy trading densities that will likely improve with the onset of the festive season.” Sandhai, their open-air meals plaza, and Periya Therru, a excessive road with mini-food vehicles, kiosks, picket benches and fountains supply areas for social distancing. “Uzhavar Sandhai, our weekly farmers market which also feature local artisans and multiple local food pop-ups will also be back as soon as supply chains stabilise,” provides the spokesperson.

Phoenix MarketCity and Palladium, in the meantime, nonetheless have about half of their shops shut. (Across the board, Phoenix properties have supplied a 30% waiver on lease.) But on the intense aspect, Pooja Patti, Centre Director, says that new shops — Birkenstock, Seiko, Mad over Donuts, OnePlus — are set to open within the coming weeks. There is an ongoing electronics and home décor fest until the top of October, with manufacturers like Reliance Digital, Croma, Poorvika, HP, Home Centre and Homestop, providing reductions of as much as 60% and vouchers value ₹2,000 on a purchase order of ₹10,000.

Store assistants are additionally taking up new roles. For occasion, at Express Avenue’s Montblanc, the workers is giving digital excursions. As for tech, EA has invested in temperature-monitoring cameras; Phoenix has fired up their NHance app with instructions to forestall folks wandering aimlessly searching for shops; and Forum Vijaya Mall asks guests to ebook a time slot through their social media handles or web sites.


A go to to a mall after 4 months felt regular, and but not. Talking factors between my brother and I, as we went to 1 MG Road, included avoiding the elevator, utilizing our toes to open doorways and refusing clothes trials at H&M.

Gajendra Singh Rathore, Senior Centre Director, Phoenix MarketCity, says that since July there was a good progress in footfall — about 8,000 on weekdays and double that on weekends (36% of what it was final 12 months). Interestingly, consumption has grown over 55% of what it was final 12 months, with some classes like electronics and home furnishings recording greater gross sales. Their present choices embrace home deliveries, brokers for tele-shopping, and curbside pickup. Performances by bands are being deliberate too. Performances by bands (inside authorities limitations for social distancing) are being deliberate too.

However, Uday Garudachar, who owns the Garuda mall chain — three within the metropolis and one in Mysuru — has a unique story to inform. From a weekday footfall of round 30,000, it’s down to three,000 a day. He provides that long-time tenants are unable to pay lease. “We haven’t given any concession and have not spoken about this at length yet. It is a tough situation all around,” he says. Despite these worries, there appears to be no concrete plan both for the long-term or festive season. Comparatively, outlets on MG Road are doing higher, says Bhoopalam P Srinath, president, Bangalore Trades Association, which represents about 120 shops there. “Namma Metro restarting has also contributed to business,” he provides.

— Aparna Narrain

Curbside pickup at Phoenix, Bengaluru

Curbside pickup at Phoenix, Bengaluru  


“As an IT hub, Hyderabad has made a fairly easy transition to the online retail space,” says Kabeer Arora, architect and researcher for Hyderabad Urban Labs. The GVK One Mall in Banjara Hills, for example, is leveraging WhatsApp for a contactless procuring expertise. Assistant advertising supervisor Gerald Mathew says that other than temperature checks and sanitisation of frequently-touched surfaces, “we have a Covid-19 response team [to spring into action is someone exhibits symptoms]”. When it involves working with their retailers, he says they “spoke with them individually and offered each certain waivers. We have to support the brands and the flea market owners”.

Malls in outskirts areas equivalent to DSL Virtue Mall, Uppal are having fun with a substantial improve in footfall. Mall supervisor Shahansha N says, “We employ a QR code system for shopping so that people don’t feel anxious spending too much time out of their homes. Most of our stores are anchor stores so this is easily handled as most people who shop here know what they want.” Sarath City Capital Mall, which is a sprawling 27,00,000 sq. toes throughout eight flooring, has opened in a phased method. However, they haven’t seen as a lot footfall as different malls equivalent to GVK One, except for the meals courtroom.

— Divya Kala Bhavani

On retailer design

  • Haroon Mohammed, architect and editor @design.kerala (Instagram)
  • “Post Covid, retail design would take more of an experiential approach. With restrictions on touch and trials, stores need to create immersive experiences to draw in customers. This could be done through the use of AR or VR as well as creating exciting displays in the store. Ensuring good ventilation and light, creativity in terms of displaying products and good digital content are the way forward.”
  • “So if we narrow it down, we are not only trying to emphasise on the users’ attention to the product but also selling ‘safety’. Assurance of cleanliness and visible hygiene should be abundantly communicated. Possibly incorporate health and safety advisors into the design process.”


Malls in Delhi opened in early June, giving them extra time to arrange for the upcoming festive season. At DLF Emporio and The Chanakya, an omni-channel method has been carried out. Prashant Gaurav Gupta, VP & Head, DLF Luxury Malls, says, “More than ever, it is imperative to maintain exclusivity to retain the fundamental role of luxury and balance it with the new ‘phygital’ experience, by taking the in-store experience online and the online experience in-store.” The hottest has been their on-call private shopper for reward procuring, the place prospects browse through video name after which decide up their purchases.

Select Citywalk was open by means of the lockdown for important commodities, says Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director & CEO. “Customers ordered [via WhatsApp] from our digital catalogue, featuring the latest from beauty, home, lifestyle and fashion brands, and got them home-delivered,” he says. A festive catalogue is arising quickly. They have additionally added concierge service and private customers.

Meanwhile, DLF is partnering with FDCI to host the first-ever on-line Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week. “We have also partnered with top Bollywood celebrity stylists Aki Narula, Astha Sharma and Mohit Rai for one-on-one appointments [October 19-21],” says Gupta. Customers can register on

— Sunalini Mathew


There appears to be a pointy divide between malls in South Mumbai (largely abandoned as they draw workplace goers and vacationers) and people within the suburbs (the place millennials and Gen Z are daring to step out). “Consumer behaviour has changed and though fear is still a factor, we are getting serious buyers now, so the conversion rate is high,” says Mukesh Kumar, CEO, Infiniti Mall, well-liked with the superstar crowd.

At Growel’s 1O1 Mall, amenities like stay procuring companies and ‘Mall on Wheels’ — the place a choice of manufacturers are dropped at housing societies — have been launched. Additionally, it’s also organising pop-ups for patrons who’re apprehensive of stepping inside shops. “About 70% of business is coming from online channels, with deliveries happening through mall stores. This reinstates the fact that omnichannel as a trend is here to stay,” says Sachin Dhanawade, COO – Retail & Real Estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Ltd, which operates the mall.

— Lalatendu Mishra

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