FOR MALLS and retailers, 2020 may prove to be a washout as most do not expect business to pick up before the fourth quarter of the present fiscal. With the continued lockdown and need for distancing, they see partial opening of businesses in the days to come.
Surjit Singh Rajpurohit, chief operating officer of Amonora Mall, said as against their monthly business of around Rs 60 crore to Rs 70 crore, during the lockdown they had clocked revenue worth Rs 17.5 crore. Only sections dealing with essential commodities were open for business during the lockdown period. As against the 18 to 20 lakh footfall the mall records in a month, the lockdown had reduced that to 500 to 1,000 a day.
Rajpurohit said the lockdown in March came unannounced and resulted in hardships across the retail sector. He said shops were getting ready for their winter sales and had stocks for summer as well.
“Now they are stuck with inventory, which has locked up cash reserves,” he said, adding most shops had either resorted to lay-offs or salary cuts.
He said going forward there might be a change in how shops paid rent. “Maybe we shall see a return of revenue share model that malls had to resort to during 2007 recession,” he added.
Malls, while operational in certain parts of the country, in Maharashtra await the government’s green signal to start functioning. The industry had prepared standard operating procedures like setting up thermal scanning and maintaining of distancing norms, which would allow them to operate.
“But the present lockdown has again put a spanner in the works,” Rajpurohit said, adding that it will be well before the fourth quarter of the present fiscal that malls might see good business.
“At present, opening up will just be partial with places like the multiplex or the food court still remaining shut. So opening up will take time,” he added.
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