Pune malls get their buzz back; operators cheer – retail could bounce back much faster than anticipated

By: |
August 8, 2020 5:45 AM

COO Surjit Singh Rajpurohit said majority of the brands such as H&M, Marks & Spencer, Vero Moda, Jack & Jones, Only, Central and Decathlon restarted from Day One.

Reopening the malls in the mid-week helped them prepare for the coming weekend, Arora said. Reopening the malls in the mid-week helped them prepare for the coming weekend, Arora said. (Representative image)

If the response to the reopening of malls in Pune is any indication, the retail segment could bounce back to pre-lockdown levels much faster than anticipated. After the four-and-a-half-month shutdown and the Covid-19 cases crossing the one-lakh mark in the city, mall operators were apprehensive about customer response when they reopened the shopping complexes on August 4. Arun Arora, centre director, Phoenix Marketcity Pune, the largest mall in Pune with more than 300 brands, said the customer response was better than their expectations.

Reopening the malls in the mid-week helped them prepare for the coming weekend, Arora said. They will closely watch the footfall this weekend and on August 15 to get a clearer picture of customer confidence and intent to return to the malls. Arora said they restarted with 70% of the brand outlets and observed good traction in the electronics and mobile phone segments. As F&D and entertainment sections are still not operating, the stores will now only have serious buyers coming in, he said.

The Amanora Mall with 181 stores, too, restarted on an upbeat note. COO Surjit Singh Rajpurohit said majority of the brands such as H&M, Marks & Spencer, Vero Moda, Jack & Jones, Only, Central and Decathlon restarted from Day One.

Amanora staged its comeback with a sale to attract customers. There is a lot of unsold stock and customers will look for affordability. So, the sale would keep them interested. The flat 50% sale has worked well with people already walking in to grab the deals and more are expected during the weekend. The mall witnessed a lot of interest in the apparel section. Rajpurohit expected the initial days to be a bit of a struggle but hoped that the festival season would turn things around.

Pune’s Pavillion and Westend Malls have also seen considerable footfall with almost all shoppers visiting the stores with intent to buy — their shopping bags indicate a lot of pent up demand. So, while footfall may be at 50% of the pre-Covid levels, the purchase trend suggests that almost all of them are serious shoppers.

The Westend mall has seen good pick up in the electronic vertical with a better than expected performance, while fast fashion business fared on expected lines.

For those still unsure of making a trip to the mall, Creaticity, a furniture and home decor mall, has boosted its physical store with an online presence to enable customers a virtual tour of its physical store. CEO Mahesh M said with most people working from home now, there is a lot of interest in redoing homes — making them more aesthetic and functional with furniture to carry out office work. They expect renewed interest in the segment and have already seen uptick in the SoHo (small office home office) segment, Mahesh said. The phygital e-commerce marketplace was launched on Friday.

Anuj Kejriwal, MD & CEO, ANAROCK Retail, said Pune’s malls had a steep climb ahead — more so because cineplexes and sit-in restaurants were still off the charts.

In a couple of months, mall shopping should begin to stabilise and, thereafter, begin to gain the lost ground, he said.

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