The prolonged closure has impacted around 50 malls in Maharashtra that used to employ more than 2 lakh people, generate an estimated business of Rs. 40,000 crores and contribute Rs. 4,000 crores in GST, per month, according to the Retailers Association of India (RAI).
Appealing to the Maharashtra government, RAI stated on Wednesday that the continuing closure of the malls' post-second wave of Covid has also afflicted all the businesses associated with the malls. The impact can be gauged by the fact that, on average, a mall has 200 retail stores operating in it and over 5,000 businesses entities associated with it as suppliers and vendors.
Emphasising that continuing restrictions on the operation of malls would put the entire ecosystem that the malls' support in serious jeopardy, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “It is important that the Maharashtra government considers reopening of formal retail spaces such as malls and shopping centres at the earliest for significant economic activity.”
In addition to contributing to the exchequer in the form of taxes, big retail stores and mega-malls support the livelihoods of thousands, including vendors, retailers, and employees.
Rajagopalan said that malls have been diligently following all standard operating procedures (SOPs) for prevention of Covid spread issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, to ensure the safety of the staff & citizens. Malls associated with RAI have also been adhering to the detailed & comprehensive SOPs formulated by the industry body as part of the health safety protocol. The protocol is based on the framework of guidelines endorsed by the Indian Medical Association.
In a statement, RAI drew attention to the fact that the Delhi and Haryana governments have set an example by reopening malls along with other markets underlining that “malls can handle crowds more efficiently and safely than markets and hence should be allowed to operate along with stand-alone shops and markets.”
Many states besides Maharashtra are continuing to place restrictions on the reopening of the malls fearing a resurge in the number of Covid positive cases or even a third wave of Covid as forecast by many health experts.