The retail industry and shopping malls have to be prepared for as they reopen. But how do they ensure customer safety and attract footfall.
Talking about how the mall is ensuring safety, Irfan Razack, CMD, Prestige Group, said, “Malls are not just a place for shopping. We are working towards giving more hygienic conditions, safety, checking the crowd inflow into the mall, inflow of crowd in each store.”
There is a question in point whether the malls will be able to attract back the consumer post opening. Harshavardhan Neotia, chairman of the Ambuja Neotia Group, said that the challenge of opening the mall is more than just getting it opened. There are certain activities which are called contact activities like food and shopping. People are apprehensive in any contact activity because that’s where you can touch surfaces and items that could potentially be carried by the virus.
Arjun Sharma, Chairman, Select Group, stated, “We have received feedback from customers and even in lockdown they are asking when is stores are going to open. There is a lot of frustration in the people who are locked in with families in small areas and shopping centers are one of the only avenues that they can go to and tend to buy when you are there.”
“As centers, we have to be very careful about how we open, we have to have the carrying capacity sorted, we should have strong measures of hygiene.”
Talking about wavier of rentals, Razak said one is the legal aspect and the contract aspect. If I go by the legal and as per the contract, I have no obligation to give any rental wavier to any retailer. But it is a partnership where we both have to work together and we have to support each other. We decide to give retailers the wavier during the lockdown period with two conditions. The first one was they will support us in AMCs and second was the moment we open we will go back to 100%.
How malls are utilizing social spaces and how will they manage social activities. Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Mall, said, “From short-term to mid-term, the events are out. We have to look at options which are not just event-led. We have done it for years and now is the time to rethink and reimagine the same. Events will come back many be in a slightly different manner.
He also said that in the reimagined retail world, digitalization will become a key thing. So we are looking at launch with the shopping app which allows you to do what you wish to do. We have to relook at what will be the new experience mean in the new normal and what will be the engagement tools that we will use.