The coronavirus outbreak has caused panic among the common people and resulted in precautionary measures across several states in India including shutting of malls and theatres.
These measures and concern among the public, although very necessary and timely, would have a severe financial impact on the country’s retail sector, sector experts said.
Anuj Kejriwal, MD and CEO of Anarock Retail said: “Amid the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country, the order of closure of malls and multiplexes across many top cities by the respective state governments to prevent people congregating for any reason, has caused the organised retail scene in these cities to come to a grinding halt.”
Along with schools and colleges, malls and movie theatres among other places and events of mass congregation of people have been shut for the next one or two weeks across several states.
Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Aero Club, the parent company of the brands Woodland and Woods, said that walk-ins at malls and stores have seen a hit of at least 20-25 percent and the impact is bound to continue till situation improves.
According to Anarcok Retail data, the eight major cities of India have 126 malls sprawling over more than 61 million square feet area, and out of them, 101 malls have multiplexes attached.
“Wherever it has been mandated, there will therefore be a high number of establishments that need to shut down for operations. Even short-term closures will have significant financial implications,” Kejriwal said.
He, however, said that what matters more is that these establishments attract massive footfalls and in a health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, shutting them down can be a major step forward in terms of harm prevention.
This week, the Delhi government announced of a shutdown of cinemas along with schools and colleges till March 31.
Several shopping malls in the National Capital Region (NCR) already have a deserted look due to the concerns of the deadly virus being spread.
Delhi-NCR has 33 malls, out of which 18 malls have movie theatres attached. Film exhibitor PVR has said that it respects the advisory issued by the administrations in Kerala, Delhi and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to shut down all cinema halls till March 31, 2020 as a precautionary and preventive measure to prevent spread of COVID-19.
“We believe that this is a temporary situation and remain buoyant about the film business in India, and our own growth prospects. We also look forward to continuing to serve our guests in the states of Kerala, Delhi and UT of Jammu and offering them a world class movie going experience April 1, 2020 onwards,” it said.
Ravi Saxena, Managing Director of kitchen appliances brand Wonderchef, was of the view that the number of new cases have declined in China and that should be looked as a positive sign and felt that the impact in India may be limited.
“There might be a limited impact in India but we are confident of it not being strong enough to impact the sales through the year,” he said.
Aero Club’s Harkirat Singh said that as people have had to stay mostly indoors due to the virus outbreak, such a situation is bound to impact the businesses, but hoped that that the situation would be short-lived and a solution to the crisis will be found soon.