Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recession Effect: No Buzz in Shopping Malls

A mall not only offers a great shopping experience but is also a mine of business opportunities. But the pangs of recession are clearly visible on this mine of opportunities also. Fewer Footfalls, No more swanky shops, empty spaces, have snatched the sheen out of this culture. About a year back, malls were sprouting up in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Zirakpur almost on an everyday basis. Over 10 malls, shopping complexes and multiplexes were set to come up, the hottest destinations being Zirakpur Road. In 2007-2008, a whopping Rs 6,000-crore investment was estimated in construction of malls over the next two years.

A quick look in 2009 showcases a different scenario. Blame it on the economic meltdown, the festive spirit has not made shopaholics to flock malls and retail outlets in Tricity. However, Shalimar Mall, the first one to start operations, wears a deserted look. No retail outlet has started its operations as yet.

The loss of business forced the branded shops to look for solutions. Of course, not all stores concede a drop in business; whereas shop owners in other malls complain of no attract takers for the swanky shops. Even shops that have come up in such malls are awaiting buyers, forcing many to shut shops. Reasons like parking problem, expensive box office has lead to fewer footfalls in Centra Mall, giving trouble times to the shop owners.

“To attract the crowd, lucrative offers should be given to the shop owners of premium brands. Moreover, management could think over a short lease period, in order to provide the flexibility to them, so that they get ample time to establish their business. Establishing more chains like Big Bazaars and giving more opportunities to factory outlets of various brands would add a feather in the cap,” suggests Vipin Sharma, GM,PropertyVertical.com.

Senior Marketing Executive of The Bella Vista, Chetan Sood, claimed, “Around 20 brands have been finalised, which have started sprucing up their stores for launch, the recession has led to a definite slowing down of the entire process. Of the 64 shops at this mall, we are yet to find takers for around 10 shops.” Asserting that Bella Vista’s USP is “truly retail centric mall” he added, “The mall will have floors dedicated to a particular lifestyle category.” Sood added that the opening of the mall may be postponed to June or July this year.

By Harsimran K. Kalra


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