A fortnight after malls in Gurgaon were permitted to reopen, officials said footfall, which remained very low on the first three days, has been picking up since, giving them a glimmer of hope that business may improve and customers would gain confidence in the “post Covid shopping experience”.
At Ambience Mall, the biggest in the city, officials said although footfall is only 10% of what it was pre-lockdown, it has increased compared to when the mall reopened on July 1.
“On weekdays, footfall is between 8,000 and 10,000. On weekends, it reaches around 14,000-15,000. Earlier, footfall on weekdays would be between 35,000 and 45,000, and on weekends, it would be 80,000 to 90,000. However, in comparison to day 1 of reopening, when we saw around 4,500 customers, there has been an increase,” said an official from Ambience mall.
At MGF Metropolitan Mall, too, officials said footfall has increased by “at least 30%” in comparison to July 1, but were quick to add that they don’t expect things to return to normal “for at least another two months”.
“There is nobody coming to do window shopping now, but footfall is increasing daily. For example, at a coffee shop where we saw barely two-three customers a day in the first three days of July, we are seeing at least three tables occupied at a time now. This is a good sign,” said Aman Bajaj, member of MGF Metropolitan Mall Association.
“If things continue at this pace… we can at least survive for the next two months,” he said. Ankita Verma, a private firm employee who was visiting Ambience Mall, said, “I came to the mall today for the first time since the lockdown as I needed to buy a pair of headphones. It has been reassuring to see the precautions being taken.”
Officials at South Point Mall too said visitors are now coming with a purpose rather than to just “wander around”. They said the manner in which business is being done has also changed. Shobha Sengupta, president of the South Point Condominium Association and owner of Quill And Canvas Bookstore and Art Gallery, said footfall has “increased by 30-40% since July 1”.
“People are a little nervous about wandering around, but if they need something or some service, they are coming, getting it done, and leaving… Business is gradually coming back but the manner in which it is being done is different,” said Sengupta.
On business at her bookstore, she said, “I have four categories of customers now — some ask me to send books down to them at the entrance of the mall, others send someone to pick up the books and then pay online, a third category is those who are buying books we are delivering to them…, and a fourth is those who browse and then buy books.”
Meanwhile, many stores were forced to shut permanently. “Most stores in our mall have reopened. The ones that are closed, not more than 10, are shut permanently. Rent is not really an issue here as landlords and tenants have negotiated and opened, and landlords have largely been understanding, but there are other reasons. For example, some shops that have closed are part of chains that have closed all across the country, others are stores that were not getting business even before coronavirus,” said Bajaj.
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