Even as the Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed standalone shops to operate across the country, malls continue to be shut. Malls, which have been associated with shopping and family outings, especially in metros, provides livelihood to over 12,000,000 people, directly and indirectly.
While the unorganized sector has been working diligently to reduce consumer stress, are we overlooking an opportunity to leverage the organized retail sector. Perhaps, shopping malls are the answer, the retail association of India (RAI) said in a statement.
Retailers across the country have been urging the government to allow malls to function. The Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) says that malls are vital to organised retail in driving key sub-sectors like entertainment, fashion, electronics, FMCG, services, cinema and food & beverages and are far better equipped to ensure that public health-related measures are prioritised and uniformly implemented.
RAI said in a note that a well-thought-out retail action plan in collaboration with the government could help accelerate the economy.
â€śShopping malls enable diversity and safety in shopping by offering a range of options to consumers in a single, organized location. Shopping malls have the infrastructure, the space, and the staff to implement the requisite health and safety measures mandated by the government, in line with WHO guidelines and international best practices â€“ it is far easier to monitor hygiene and social distancing at malls than anywhere else,â€ť RAI stated.
RAI also believes that re-opening shopping malls will also bring economic relief to the lakhs of blue-collared workers and the many businesses dependant on them for their livelihoods. Furthermore, as malls open and payments initiate, banking institutions could see relief to their stressed balance sheets.
â€śThe back end of the industry cannot function if the front end isnâ€™t operating. We could implement measures in malls such as restricted operating hours (especially during non-peak hours); social distancing protocols; vacant seats between patrons in cinema halls; partitions between customers in restaurants; hand sanitizers and temperature checks at entrances; and masks for all retail staff. The tenants in malls are all organized retailers; they will abide by all such rules and best practices,â€ť Atul Ruia, Managing Director, Phoenix Malls said in a statement.
RAI further argues that data from SCAI indicates that there are 650 large shopping centres that contribute over Rs 180,000 crore in sales with 1000 plus smaller shopping centres contributing another Rs 50,000 crore to the sales of the organised retail sector.