Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Wednesday said the prolonged closures of malls in Maharashtra due to COVID-19 have ''impacted'' around 2 lakh jobs and asked the state government to allow them to operate with necessary safeguards.
The closure has put the entire ecosystem that depends on the malls in "serious jeopardy" and is not only hurting businesses but also livelihoods of people working there, RAI said in a statement.
"The prolonged closures have impacted the estimated 50 malls in Maharashtra that employ more than 2 lakh people, generate a business of (around) Rs 40,000 crore and contribute Rs 4,000 crore in GST, per month," the retailers'' body said.
RAI further said, "It has also afflicted all the businesses associated with malls -- 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."
Commenting on the situation, RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said, "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."
The Delhi and Haryana governments have set an example by reopening malls along with other markets, he said adding, "We request the government of Maharashtra to do the same."
Rajagopalan added that this would not only "help save jobs and businesses but will also pave the way for citizens to shop in a safe and sanitized environment".
Malls have the ability to handle crowds more efficiently and safely than markets and hence should be allowed to operate along with standalone shops and markets, he asserted.
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