Before discussing the relationship between shopping malls and retail and its overall impact on consumerism, we need to first understand the reasons behind the need for a shopping mall. India is the second most populated country in the world with an average population density of 367 persons per kilometer area. India’s population has been growing at a CAGR of 1.6 per cent and is estimated to grow almost at same rate in the coming years as well.
This growth in terms of human population has led to scarcity of land required for residential and commercial purposes. The infrastructure has also tended to get mismanaged, chaotic and lethargic because of increased population. The impact is more severe in big cities where the resources such as land, water and power have already been under intense pressure of meeting steep demands.
The increased vehicle population in the cities has also added to the pressure. In such situations, the high streets and other market areas appear to be inadequately prepared for this pressure of human as well as vehicle populations. The few reasons for this inadequacy are the unorganised market structures, unplanned layouts, lack of vision on market developments, and absence of synergy between more than one administrative and regulatory body responsible for smooth functioning of these markets.
From the consumer’s point of view, the space crunch in these markets offers many discomforts in shopping, such as poor parking facilities, lack of basic amenities and the occasional disturbances of local seasons and festivities. All these circumstances compel both the retailers and the consumers to look for better alternatives, something that is provided by shopping malls. Although, it can be argued that shopping malls also need space that will add to the scarcity situation. However, the space in shopping malls is clearly defined, organised and professionally managed by a team, which is groomed to serve customers.
Customers can park their vehicles in the parking area managed by the mall management. They can shop in the mall across a spectrum of brands, formats, products and services all under one roof. In-house information and staff assistance is readily available to avoid any discomfort; one can eat out in the food court and get entertained in the fun zones, watch a movie or spend their free time by window shopping, hanging around with friends and family or having business meetings in the malls itself. Given these factual ground situations, it can be established that shopping malls provide a better shopping environment than other market areas.