Team Viva analyses footfalls and the public response as shoppers revisit malls after a long time, reclaiming a bit of the old
The right to live as a human and earn a livelihood is asserting itself despite the mad swirl of the virus that is threatening just that. And so it is that India, despite seeing an unprecedented spike in the virus, is daring to live with it, choosing life over fear. Doors to some malls and shopping multiplexes in non-containment zones in the country were thrown open to the public after a lockdown of 2.5 months on June 8. Around 250 malls were made operational from the 650-odd large malls over 100,000 sqft, ensuring all measures for customer safety. A portfolio of norms was forwarded to all the opening malls by the Shopping Centres Authority of India (SCAI), taking innovative measures to ensure sanitisation of everything in malls, from shoes to tires.
However, given that the cases in the country have been rising by thousands each day, are the malls even gaining enough footfalls? Has the public been able to walk in fearlessly? Well, looking at the statistics, the results vary hugely as per the geography and the hotspot areas. Clearly, the confidence level is low in metros, which are badly swamped. Those who stepped out here were mostly young people. But in low incidence areas, people did venture out tentatively.
Phoenix Mills Ltd witnessed an overall 2,000 footfalls in its mall at Bengaluru. “The customers appeared to be excited and shopped in good numbers,” as per the mall authorities. They also mentioned that customers were not too large in numbers during weekdays. However, they are waiting for the next weekend to gain a better idea about the situation. Accordingly, they will analyse and prepare themselves for the future. They highlighted that customers have been disciplined, observing all the guidelines and are adhering to it.
Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi, reported that 50 per cent of the total shops opened on the first day and the rest will open in the coming days. Middle-aged and elderly people were lesser in number though youngsters visited in huge numbers. Electronics, apparel and cosmetics showed good sales. It reported that the customers showed good adaptability to the absence of changing rooms. As per data by SCAI, brands like H&M showed good sales. Many Apple phones and MacBooks have also been sold.
Given a high number of cases in the city, extra attention to customer safety has been ensured inside the mall premises. A disinfection tunnel has been installed by the DRDO at the entrance. Going through the tunnel, however, is not compulsory but a choice. It is mandatory for people to remain below the tunnel for 20 seconds before entering the mall. The disinfection tunnel is about seven feet.
Anuva Mehra, a resident of Malviya Nagar, who visited the mall on Tuesday, said, “I liked how the arrangements were made to help people enter the mall with a sense of relief and safety. I believe that all such steps are important to be followed religiously. The crowd entering the malls should also be handled properly.”
DLF Shopping Malls said in a statement that they will reopen their gates in a phased manner by the week-end. It said, “We will take this week to open up our malls across Delhi and NCR in a phased manner. All arrangements will be made to ensure the safety of shoppers.”
Mall of Travancore mentioned that it was seeing a lot of customers walking in and the supermarket is getting good number of footfalls. Retailers at the mall have also reported positive results for their first-day sales.
The Junction Mall, Durgapur, told us that people are shopping with them even though Kolkata isn’t very safe at the moment but they adhered to the strict guidelines which the mall has implemented for safety. Looking at the footfalls on day one, authorities are hopeful that the number will rise in the coming days. However, looking at the customer reactions, they are mixed. While some believe that safety can be ensured by following proper guidelines and taking all necessary steps, some are still fearful about what may come. A footfall of over 3,000 has been reported till now (70 per cent footfall on day one).
Mall of Amritsar, Punjab, reported more than 50 per cent of the footfalls covered till second half of the first day. They have marked the parking areas and are following all the guidelines. The mall has also installed various centres for sanitisation within its premise. The mall authorities said, “The first few days are crucial for customers to get accustomed to the new rules and regulations. They have trained everyone from retailers to outhouse staff. They didn’t face any challenges till yet.” Looking at the products they are buying, Mall of Amritsar saw customers buying more apparel and cosmetics. As per SCAI’s data, brands like Nykaa and Shopper’s Stop showed good sales.
Moving further, Pacific Mall, Dehradun, saw customers enjoying their visit to the mall after a long time. It witnessed a “decent” footfall. The numbers haven’t been too high but good to begin with.
While the reactions received in the past three days have been a mix of both good and bad, there are some cases where the fear still lingers more than excitement of getting out of the home. For Phoenix United Mall, Lucknow, the first hour was a little difficult as it saw less customers. However, later in the day, it saw 1,500 customers till 4 pm. Two stores of the mall crossed Rs 10 lakh sales. Retailers looked quite excited. Food courts were opened with bigger retailers. While brands like KFC and Pizza Hut are doing well, salons are also following regular disinfection by using fresh towels and PPE kits, hence, grabbing more footfalls.
Ramit Mishra, a local resident, who visited the Phoenix United on day one, said, “There is certainly a sense of fear and anxiety in public right now but this is how the reality is going to be in the coming future. We have to learn to live with this new virus and make terms with such a safety-conscious world. We have still seen enough of the free world but I urge new parents to adopt a new lifestyle where shopping and eating out will have new definitions and also, teach the same to the future generations. This will make it easier for the children to adapt to healthy and safe habits. Entering and roaming around malls will never be the same.”
On the other hand, the DLF Mall of India, Noida, didn’t open. It is following every guideline given by the government and SCAI. It shall be opening the mall soon in the coming days. Customer confidence is their focus and owners are making sure that all customers feel safe coming to the mall. They have developed an app that will display the holding capacity of the customers in the mall. It shows red, green, and yellow alerts, which decide the customer entrance possibilities. The app gives access to customers from home as well as from outside the mall.
Thursday, 11 June 2020 | Team Viva
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