Experts closely monitoring and/or operating in the business of retail do not agree with the media and indistinct agency reports that say that around 50 per cent malls in India will be closed by 2010.
Disagreeing with the latest report, Anuj Puri, chairman and country head, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, told Indiaretailing that malls in India will neither perish nor disappear. He said, “To keep themselves updated with the latest happenings, malls might need to restructure and change in accordance with changing customer behaviour and shopping trends. We might see a small shopping complex changing into a lifestyle mall, or adopting some other business format. But that certainly does not mean they will stop operating. The important retail space will not be wasted.”
Arvind K Singhal, chairman, Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd, opined a similar thought as he pointed out: “Such a high percentage of malls in India will certainly not perish by 2010. If it were so, no one would have come up with more malls. The shopping centre business is booming; who will open a mall to merely perish within two years? All mall owners are aware of people’s expectations, and are doing enough to cater to it. I am confident that by 2010, India will have more than double the number of malls it has today.”
Pranay Sinha, chief executive, Select Citywalk, expressed his opinion thus: “One should have done a detailed research before making a statement like that. Everybody knows that malls must improve their services and focus to retain the consumer. One does not need to be an Einstein to discover that. I would say 90 per cent of the retailers focusing on investors would face losses. But that does not mean that they will perish.”
“The mall business in the country is the biggest one and will definitely find more takers in the near future,” said Sinha.
Vivek Kumar, director, IRIS Retail, also condemned such research results saying, “How can any agency project definite figures for the future? Most of the old malls or shopping centres in India are undergoing a revamping and repositioning process to keep up with the present trends. None of the malls have actually shut down or have stopped operating, nor is it likely to happen in the future, or by 2010, as they say.”
“There are some old constructions without proper planning, which are facing closure; however, they do not even qualify to be called a shopping centre or a mall,” Kumar added.
The recent report released by the leading news agency claimed that consolidation in the retail sector would result in closure of about 50 per cent malls by 2010. It also said that the hype surrounding the industry will considerably subside by then.
– Satrajit Sen