Thermal scanning of all customers, automatic hand sanitiser dispensers at entrances, PPE kits and face shields for security staff, electronic menus to be viewed on phones at restaurants — several safety measures are in place at malls in Gurgaon, which reopened their doors Wednesday after a three-month shutdown amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Malls, however, reported a low footfall, with only a slow trickle of customers through the day. While some customers said they wanted to take advantage of sales at clothing stores, others said they wanted to see and try before spending money.
Ashish Sood (43), a resident of Sector 53, said, “I needed a pair of shoes but the brand I shop from is slightly expensive, so I didn’t think it was a good idea to order them online. I have come today to make that purchase… I don’t intend to venture out regularly but seeing the precautions in place, I won’t be reluctant to step out.”
Officials at different malls in the city said this latter sentiment would echo amongst other customers as well, and help build confidence. Although conceding that footfall on Wednesday remained much lesser than usual, they said they expect things will improve in the coming weeks.
“This is the first day and the situation is not normal, so we cannot expect footfall to be what it was three months ago. However, the trend has been satisfactory; we saw many customers around 2 or 3 pm. People came to purchase cosmetics, many visited clothing stores and food outlets,” said an official at Ambience mall.
At MGF Metropolitan Mall on MG Road, officials said things had “intentionally” been kept slow on Wednesday, to assess preparedness of different stores.
“Today is the first day and we have not even advertised re-opening yet. The management was more focused on seeing how many people will open stores, and on checking that those who open do so while following the norms. Most of our shops have opened, only 7-8% are closed. They too are planning to re-open but it is not easy; a lot of them have staff issues because people went home during the lockdown…,” said Aman Bajaj, member of the MGF Metropolitan Mall Association.
He said he expects footfall to build up in another week: “People have been stuck at home for three months. Where can they go if they want to venture out — theatres are closed, the temperature is so high that going to markets is not much of an option. In another week or so, we expect people will gain confidence and then come.”
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