Business recovery: Malls, restaurants pin their hopes on faster Covid-19 vaccination

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June 17, 2021 3:45 AM

A quick recovery will also help some malls support their staff, many of whom had been temporarily taken off payrolls due to stretched finances. Viviana Mall, for instance, had to cut about 50% of its employee strength during the lockdown. All of them are yet to get back to work.

If a shopper earlier spent Rs 1,000 on an average, he is spending Rs 1,600 now. Among product segments, electronics has already seen a near 100% recovery while departmental stores and active wear categories are clocking significant sales.If a shopper earlier spent Rs 1,000 on an average, he is spending Rs 1,600 now. Among product segments, electronics has already seen a near 100% recovery while departmental stores and active wear categories are clocking significant sales.

With malls and restaurants opening up in several states and districts, owners are hopeful of faster recovery this time round compared to the post first wave of Covid, but maintain that the pace of vaccination holds the key to their businesses returning to normal.

The consensus is that that if the pace of vaccination picks up and a third wave is averted, normalcy in business can return between July and September.

Gurvineet Singh, CEO at Thane-based Viviana Mall, said it took the company nearly 45-50 days to reach 50% of the pre-Covid footfalls when it resumed operations in September last year post the first lockdown. This time, the mall managed to reach the same number in seven days. In fact, the firm hit as much as 75% of the pre-Covid sales over the weekend ended June 13, helped by an increase in average spend per consumer.

If a shopper earlier spent Rs 1,000 on an average, he is spending Rs 1,600 now. Among product segments, electronics has already seen a near 100% recovery while departmental stores and active wear categories are clocking significant sales.

Formal wear is also finding takers due to the reopening of some offices in Mumbai and Thane, Singh told FE. Recovery of restaurants, however, has been restricted due to the cap on seating capacity. “If there is no third wave and the process of vaccination gains speed, we can see normalcy as early as July,” Singh said. To woo more shoppers, Viviana Mall is incentivising consumers who have got at least one dose of vaccination.

A quick recovery will also help some malls support their staff, many of whom had been temporarily taken off payrolls due to stretched finances. Viviana Mall, for instance, had to cut about 50% of its employee strength during the lockdown. All of them are yet to get back to work.

Pushpa Bector, executive director at DLF Retail, said that nearly 11,000-12,000 customers walked into DLF Promenade during the weekend ended June 13. This compares with about 20,000 consumers the mall hosted before going under lockdown. The 11,000-12,000 footfalls were achieved in spite of the odd-even policy which was in place in Delhi then. Given that e-commerce deliveries were restricted to essentials during the lockdown, the mall shoppers made a beeline for categories like fast fashion and athleisure. Stores like Zara, Uniqlo saw good consumer demand. With select brands soon expected to announce sale events, consumption will further get a fillip, hopes Bector.

At the end of Q4FY21, sales for DLF had touched about 80-85% of pre-Covid levels. Bector is expecting recovery to set in by September if there is no third wave and the metros are able to expedite the process of inoculation.

For Pacific Mall that runs premises in Delhi’s Dwarka and Subash Nagar, about 30-35% sales have come from digital items and gadgets. Executive director Abhishek Bansal said business may recover at a slower pace than last year considering the second wave has made people “more sceptical than before”. However, the end of season sales slated in July and August and the onset of the festive season in October should bode well for overall consumption, said Bansal.

Satyajit Dhingra, chief regional officer, North at Impresario Handmade Restaurants that owns brands like Smoke House Deli and Social, said that on an average, brand Social is seeing around 100 customers per outlet on a daily basis. The permission to serve liquor in select areas like Gurgaon has helped restaurants drive more footfalls, said Dhingra.

In Mumbai, both Smoke House Deli and Social outlets that opened on a Monday (June 7) saw the entire 50% of the seats getting reserved for lunch. “A full house for a Monday lunch was a great sign and a testament of people genuinely missing stepping out and dining out yet again,” said Mayank Bhatt, business head at Social.

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