Malls across Mumbai had a slow start Wednesday as they reopened after four months. With most branded stores and shops still closed, customers looking for electronic stores and essential supplies returned empty-handed. Heavy discounts offered by a few other shops that had reopened, meanwhile, managed to attract only a handful.
The state government on July 29 had rolled out fresh relaxations to the lockdown norms and allowed malls and market complexes to reopen from 9 am to 7 pm across the state, including in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The order, signed in by Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar, however, said theatres, food courts and restaurants in these complexes would continue to remain shut.
On Wednesday, all visitors were stopped at the entry points of the malls to undergo a host of safety procedures – while at some malls people were told to make online registration, at a few others customers were asked to update their status on Aarogya Setu mobile applications. Customers also underwent mandatory thermal scanning, besides the regular security checks. At most malls, regular announcements were made urging people to sanitise their hands and keep face masks on.
At R Mall in Ghatkopar, all visitors, like 26-year-old Naheed Sultan from Govandi, had to fill up an online registration form. A QR code issued thereafter was scanned at the entrance by the security personnel. While the mall has allowed visitors to pre-register themselves, most of them turned up unaware and had to spend several minutes for the process.
After struggling to register herself, Naheed who had come to buy supplies from Big Bazaar, a retail chain of hypermarkets, said she was returning empty-handed as the shop was shut. “We buy our supplies through Bajaj Finance from Big Bazaar. Today, we were told that it will take two to three days for the shop to reopen. I’ll check again in a few days,” she said.
At Phoenix Malls in Lower Parel, UV scanners were put up at prominent locations to allow visitors to sanitise their shopping bags. Each shop inside the mall had also put up stickers on how many customers would be allowed at a given time. However, attractive sales announced by several major stores at the mall kept the footfall high. Airoli-resident Pranita Bhosle (23) said, “I read a story put up by the mall on its Instagram handle and came here but the discounts were so good that I brought many things.”
At Goregaon’s The Hub, mostly electronic and grocery stores had opened on the first day. Utsav Verma (45), who lives nearby, said, “I came to buy an electronic device as [e-retailer] Amazon could not deliver. Though there is no crowd, it is a little risky that most of the staff are not wearing gloves,” he said.
A few others, like Anujha Shrivastav and her husband Akhilesh, meanwhile, visited Oberoi Malls to redeem some coupons. “We have to embrace the situation as a part of our reality so there is no escaping it,” said Akhilesh.
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