Shopping malls have seen footfalls drop by up to 25 per cent in the first week of January 2022 due to restrictions imposed by states to check the spread of coronavirus, according to industry body SCAI. On top of that consumers are also apprehensive about venturing out in the midst of rising Covid cases across the country, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) said. Lower footfalls and sales have resulted in piling of stock at retailers’ stores in shopping malls. In cities such as Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai, which are witnessing a sharp jump in the number of Covid cases, shoppers are giving a miss, skipping the annual sale promotions. When contacted, SCAI Chairman Mukesh Kumar said the weekend curfew imposed in Delhi and Bengaluru has hit the business of shopping malls.
The weekend sales contribute almost 30 to 40 per cent of their business. “We expect a drop in footfall. One has to accept that there is fear of Omicron in the public and it is spreading fast,” Mukesh Kumar told PTI. Businesses of food and beverages and multiplexes are most impacted in Delhi and Bengaluru, where the weekend closure is announced. “For food and beverages, we are expecting a slight slow down because, in most of the states, they have been asked to close by 10 pm. There would be an impact on pubs while restaurants having family dining would have not much impact. While retail is concerned, most of the shops are getting closed by 9 to 9:30 pm,” he added. He, however, said that malls generally witness lower footfall in the first week of January every year. “It is the same trend now. In case, if it did not get too serious, then it is not going to have an impact,” he added.
The Delhi government has imposed a weekend curfew, while Karnataka has declared a weekend curfew and extended the night curfew for two weeks in the state. Nexus Malls Cluster Director – Karnataka Manoj Singh said as malls are not operating on weekends, there would be 50 per cent loss of business. “We are already seeing footfalls dip by around 15-25 per cent across malls during the first week of 2022,” he said. Nexus Malls has a total 16 malls spread across 12 cities and out of these five malls are in Karnataka. Pacific Group Executive Director Abhishek Bansal said: “Footfalls in our shopping malls in Delhi have dropped by 60 per cent, while sales of retailers are down 70 per cent because of COVID restrictions”. On weekend, he said, there will be complete loss of business because of a curfew in the national capital. In January, Bansal said footfalls and demands are generally high because of annual sales by retailers.
“Stocks have piled up in malls,” he pointed out. Pacific group has three shopping malls at Shubash Nagar, Pitampura and Dwarka in the national capital. However, mall owners are assuring the safety to the visitors and shoppers by strictly following the protocol and have also requested the government to allow them to function as usual. “We have reached also to the government to go back to the normal timing. We would maintain protocol making sure that people visiting there are doubly vaccinated,” said Kumar of SCAI. “We are just hoping that there is no more reactions from the government.” However, he also reiterated that safety for the customers and the visitors is very important and malls are safe. “We do applaud the efforts that the state governments are taking to curb the spread of the virus, however, we would like to urge them to reconsider their decision on the weekend lockdowns,” Nexus Malls’ Singh said. He added that malls are by far the most controlled and safe shopping experience that individuals can get.