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How will mall business revive post Covid-19 era?

How will mall business revive post Covid-19 era?
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Covid-19 has impacted all the industries and shopping centers have also been hit by the pandemic. The industry experts come together to discuss how to ensure the revival of the industry at a webinar hosted by RAI.

Ashwin Puri, Co-founder & CEO, Lake Shore India, said that malls have moved away from commodity shopping to social gathering places. He further mentioned that the revival process will take 6-12 months and consumer confidence will come in slowly and steadily as cases drop.

Talking about the categories that will hit hard and will revive early, he said that the F&B, cinema which used to be large footfall drivers to shopping malls, could be the last one to revive. Things like electronics, home, fitness equipment may bounce back earlier. Value fashion in the fashion category may come back earlier,” he added.

Best practices
Talking about the best practices that some of the other countries are following and the learnings that we can bring to India from there, Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Mall, said,  “Safety of our customers and employees is paramount. The second is securing the supply of employee as it seems very simple in a country of 1.3 billion but the fact is that one of the biggest problems that Chinese retail environment face was that they had no people post lockdown. And the cost of hourly wages went up by 30-35%. The third is sourcing your inventory. Forth one is to secure the trust and confidence of the shopper.”

Food for thought
Highlighting how social distancing norms will affect the operations of the restaurants and what measures can we quickly take to ensure the business to keep going on, Riyaaz Amlani, MD, Impresario Entertainment Hospitality, said, “We are creating more distance between tables, we are making sure you don’t need to touch the menu and it comes on a digital format at your phone.” He also mentioned that we will have a higher cost and lower revenue but this is going to be a transitionary phase.

Is there going to be a revolution in the way our spaces are designed and what steps can we take to put in place those safety standards. And what are the cost implications of those changes. Vishak Kumar, CEO, Madura Fashion and Lifestyle, said, “It will require very different norms of manning, spacing, layout etc. Like we are looking for a contactless shopping experience. That is the transaction and there is a new normal which will be created.”

Talking about the changing wallet size, Kumar, said for some time, travel, holidays will not be on consumers’ priority so there will be disposable income which will be available for other forms of leisure and entertainment. So, shopping malls will be a good option. It will be critical for retailers to build relevance.
 
While people come to watch a movie but a large part of revenues come from F&B. Talking about what really happens to the food in the cinema business, Alok Tandon, CEO, Inox Leisure Ltd said, “We will be the last to open. All operators will have to reduce their F&B menu, the cutlery is clean and hygienic.” 

Road ahead
Talking about the way forward, Amlani said that the entire retail environment has to come together and form true partnerships. “Post Covid-19 if we can come up with better models, it will be win-win for everybody,” he concluded.

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