With Diwali less than a week away, and amid a spike in Covid cases, officials of malls and markets said footfall is “very low” for a festival season as compared to the same time last year. The city recorded 964 cases — the highest so far — on Sunday.
“As compared to the festive season last year, footfall is at least 20% lesser. Many are purchasing items online… 20% is a big amount during festive season, it will make a big difference,” said Aman Bajaj, member, MGF Metropolitan Mall Association.
At Ambience Mall, an official said, “We haven’t reached the footfall we were seeing pre-lockdown, or even this time last year. But there has been a significant improvement compared to when we had re-opened post lockdown. We have achieved nearly 65-70% footfall of what would be normal on weekends, with 38,000-40,000 visitors. However, the nature of clientele has changed a bit. Earlier, the entire family used to come to celebrate, now we are seeing only one or two members. At the same time, people are not coming for window shopping… they shop and leave, so sales are increasing. Shops are also giving offers that are attracting people.”
Bajaj also acknowledged the increase in footfall in the last few weeks, attributing this to reduced restrictions as well as a desire among people to “go out”. “Malls opened with a lot of restrictions earlier, in terms of staff, timing. When people read about all this, they would be reluctant to come. Now, restrictions have been lifted, cinema halls have also opened… We still have to see how things progress,” he said.
At markets, however, traders are a lot less optimistic. At the usually busy Sadar Bazaar, association members said the footfall is 25% of normal.
“The situation is marginally better than two months ago but, even today, shopkeepers and traders cannot meet their expenses… 90% of small traders are operating at a loss. People are not coming out unless they need something urgently. They are also apprehensive of being harassed by police personnel since there are so many restrictions about social distancing and wearing masks,” said Bablu Gupta, president, Sadar Bazaar Market Association.
“Around 20% of shops that were on rent had already closed down after the lockdown. People don’t have jobs so where will they have the money to spend in markets? We expect more job losses after Diwali… It is unlikely the situation will improve soon,” he said.
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