Mall operators have said that the Maharashtra government’s decision allowing reopening of malls from August 5 will give a much-needed boost to the retail industry. It will also help rekindle the consumption story. They have also assured the state government for the strict implementation of standard operating procedure on social distancing and curb crowding at the malls.
However, the state government in notification issued last night extending the lockdown till midnight of August 31 has clearly said that the malls, market complexes will operate without theatres, food courts and restaurants between 9 am and 7 pm from August 5. Kitchen restaurants and food courts will be allowed to operate in malls wherein only home delivery through aggregators will be allowed.
Infinity Malls CEO Mukesh Kumar said the government’s decision has come as a big relief to the retailers, shopping centre owners and employees working in the retail shops and shopping centres. ‘’ Malls are already with all protocols like regular sanitisation, social distancing, mandatory wearing of masks, contactless services, capping on number of people allowed in the malls. There has been a great demand from people to open the malls as they believe that malls are the safest place to shop,’’ he noted.
Kumar, who is the chairman of Shopping Centres Association of India-SOP committee, said, “We are hoping that the government will allow opening of the malls till at least 10pm. Also allow the restaurants and food court to operate since they are integral part of a mall.’’
Phoenix Mills-Malls COO Rashmi Sen said, ‘’ Our three flagship malls in Maharashtra will open on August 5. We have incorporated the highest quality of SOPs to ensure the safety of our customers, retail partners and employees across our properties.”
The mall operators propose to broadcast the new social distancing norms regularly using a brief but educative script, seating arrangements will be withdrawn temporarily and there will be no shopping centre events or promotion to reduce crowding. They will communicate through radio, social media to customers all the safeguards and precautionary measures taken with the goal that they will certainly visit the shopping centre.
Moreover, mall operators will also explore deployment of latest customer engagement technologies including live streaming services for brands wanting to entertain and inform customers, professionals to offer online livestream training sessions and at home workouts to enhance the customer experience and virtual tri-on videos.