Shopping malls are open but retailers face the next big challenge – getting people to the stores

File photo of an empty mall in Delhi NCRBCCL
  • Shopping malls across India opened on June 8.
  • A survey from the Retailers Association of India said that a majority 67% of the consumers surveyed showed little to no excitement in shopping post the lockdown.
  • Moreover, major retail centres like Delhi, Mumbai are still grappling with a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases which is keeping people from venturing out.
Shopping malls across India opened on June 8, after a long wait since March. But as mall owners are happy, retailers are still worried. From directives like those from the UP government where malls can stay open, but not the shops in them to the rising number of coronavirus cases in India, consumers are still shying away from retail therapy.

A survey from the Retailers Association of India said that a majority 67% of the consumers surveyed showed little to no excitement in shopping post the lockdown. Moreover, 78% of the respondents said their shopping expenditure would decrease.

This has also brought down the battered retail stocks which had seen some respite before the June 8 reopening.

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StocksShare price change since June 8
Future Retail-8%
Shoppers Stop-8.5%
Trent (Westside)-3.4%
Spencer’s Retail-2.5%

“With most consumers demonstrating hesitation to resume shopping in the coming months, the retail sector needs the support of all stakeholders to revive sentiment. Retailers will need to prioritize safety and hygiene measures to reassure consumers that they will receive a safe shopping experience. Despite a strained quarter, the sector will have to make investments in implementing the necessary safeguards to win back consumer confidence,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.

Another threat to retailers continues to be online shopping – with non-essential e-commerce too having opened up, major online players like Amazon, Flipkart have seen a surge in orders.

Moreover, major retail centres like Delhi, Mumbai are still grappling with a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases which is keeping people from venturing out. In Delhi NCR, malls are also taking time to open doors as they get accustomed to the new normal of sanitization.
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Big brand retailers too aren’t opening up shop in a hurry, which is beginning to worry mall owners. “We are reaching out to retailers individually to discuss and we are sure that as we open gradually, everyone will open their stores. We need to collaborate at this time and they are our partners,” Pushpa Bector, executive director, DLF Malls told TOI.

This is despite the fact that mall owners had offered rent waivers to retailers.

Earlier, credit rating agency CARE ratings has given the retail sector in India a ‘Negative’ outlook. “The impact on demand, which is expected to remain muted at least for the next three or four quarters, will be more in case of players with presence in non-essential items and luxury segments,” said the ratings agency in its report.
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