Updated: July 29, 2021 5:22:34 pm
Raising concerns over the state of the retail sector, traders have sought immediate relaxation in lockdown guidelines across Maharashtra, particularly in Mumbai, to allow the reopening of malls. The Retailers Association of India (RAI) has pointed out that prolonged closure of malls has seriously jeopardised the entire ecosystem that they support.
Malls in the state have remained shut for over three months since the second wave of Covid-19 hit the region.
The association Wednesday issued a statement highlighting that over two lakh jobs have been affected due to the closure of nearly 50 malls in the state which, in turn, has also hit businesses worth Rs 40,000 crore that contribute to a GST revenue of up to Rs 4,000 crore per month.
Owners of malls and shopping centres said each day of shutdown not only hurts businesses but also the livelihoods of employees.
“It is important that the Maharashtra government considers reopening of formal retail spaces, such as malls and shopping centres, at the earliest as they are centres of significant economic activity. In addition to contributing to the exchequer in the form of taxes, they support several livelihoods, including those of vendors, retailers and employees,” said Kumar Rajgopalan, CEO of RAI.
“The reopening of malls will not only help save jobs and businesses but will also pave the way for citizens to shop in a safe and sanitised environment. Malls have the ability to handle crowds more efficiently and safely than markets and hence should be allowed to operate along with stand-alone shops and markets,” he said.
RAI said the governments of Delhi and Haryana have set an example by reopening malls along with other markets.
“On an average, a mall has 200 retail stores operating in it and over 5,000 business entities associated with it as suppliers and vendors. Restarting malls will help ensure the survival of this ecosystem,” the association’s statement said.
Most parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, are currently in level-3 of Covid-19 restrictions under which only stand-alone shops selling non-essential goods are allowed to operate from 7 am to 4 pm on weekdays. Malls are yet to be opened.
Retailers said they were ready to comply with all Covid-19 protocols if the government permits reopening of malls.
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