Leading mall developers came together to brainstorm the problems faced by the industry and the likely solutions, at a virtual roundtable conducted by the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI).
Anuj Puri, Chairman, Anarock Property, kicked off the discussion by asking what the international data shows about how has been their experience after opening up.
Atul Ruia, Chairman, Phoenix Mills, said, “The world is gulf by something called fear and in this phase of fear its very difficult to think rationally. As of now it’s too early to talk about opening up of malls in other countries.” He further took two examples and said in China the malls have been opened up and 70-80% of shoppers are back. Ikea also posted a story about their stores and malls both in China and Germany. In Germany they feel that 63% of customers are back and 65% of the tenants have opened stores. In China as well its reported that about 70-80% of customers are back.
“Within 3 months of us being open we will start seeing largely normalization. The biggest question is how to reopen safely and quickly,” added Ruia.
Attracting footfall post lockdown
Talking about how would developers ensure that the environment is safe and secure for the customers, R Jaishankar, CMD, Brigade Group, said, “Malls are much more safer in every aspect. In malls, we can certainly control the number of people who can enter at a given point of time and the number of people who can enter a store a given time. And malls are always spacious by and large. Window shopping might go down but a serious shopper would likely to come to a mall.”
On building the confidence of the consumer of getting it back into the mall, Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific Group, added, “This is not a permanent feature. Mankind are not going to live like this for their entire life. It is going to be for 3-6 months.”
On speaking about how do they treat the retailers’ rent during the lockdown period and post lockdown, Rahul Saraf, MD, Forum Projects, mentioned, “Time has come that the mall developers and retailers sit together through this difficult time and try to work out solutions. Both the retailers and mall developers have to understand each other. I think the possible solution could be we all have 5-6 years of rentals as LRD and we all pay monthly EMI from our rent collection back to the bank. Banks should allow us 6-9 months of top up against the LRDs sanctioned and put a moratorium where you only service the interest.”