After several weeks of lockdown due to the second wave of Covid, malls are firming plans to soon restart operations and woo back consumers with special offers and promotional activities.
“Plans are ready in all the malls that are expected to restart operations within a week or two, to soon launch special sales and other activities to attract consumers. Once the promotions begin, the scenario in the malls is expected to look up,” says Mukesh Kumar, Chairman, Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) and CEO of Infiniti Malls.
SCAI represents over 300 malls, covering roughly one lakh square feet, out of around 1000 malls in the country.
So far, Delhi Telangana, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have permitted shopping malls to restart operations with safety regulations in place. In most of the other states, small and medium-sized department stores have been allowed to start operations with some restrictions like proper sanitation and closure by 4 pm.
By next week, more states are expected to lift the restriction on the operation of malls in cities where the ratio of new Covid cases has dipped to 5 percent or lower, enabling more stores to get back to commercial activities after several weeks of closure.
Going by the consumer appetite in Gujarat where malls were allowed to restart operations more than two weeks back, the retail sector is hopeful of doing reasonably good business as was seen post the lifting of lockdown last year.
“Consumer trends in Gujarat are not too bad as people are not restricting their purchases to their shopping lists. We are hopeful of seeing similar trends in other states where malls are soon expected to be back in business after six to eight weeks lockdown,” says Kumar.
With more people having been vaccinated every week, it is expected to boost consumer sentiments and confidence in venturing out. As footfalls increase, there is also an expectation that impulse buying by consumers will revive within a week or two of the malls reopening and the stores seeking to push out piled-up stocks.
The reopening of the malls is expected to revive demand. As the piled-up inventory starts clearing, it is expected to help manufacturing units to restart or step up productions, which in many cases have fallen to 50 percent or less than the installed capacity in a large number of cases.
Retailers are looking forward to a more rewarding July as sales start happening though the margin of profits may not be as much as expected ahead of the second wave of Covid and subsequent lockdown in hot spot regions.
Plans for many new malls either on the drawing board or under construction, which are currently on hold, are expected to revive by the end of this year or early next year. Almost 20 million square feet of mall projects are currently held up at various stages of construction. If the outlook improves, many of the small, medium, and mega-mall projects are expected to be restarted by October at the earliest, giving a boost to construction activities.