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Preparing for a Pandemic Festive Season: Shopping centres begin décor adapted to new normal

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India is a country of diverse people and cultures and come September, it is festival season for almost all ethnicities. A huge part of festivals in India involves the beautification and decoration of homes, places of worship and marketplaces, shopping for loved ones and spending time with family and friends.
While shoppers get set to celebrate with shopping sprees, the excitement flows into their favourite shopping destinations as well. Predominantly, shopping centres act as community centres which people visit during festivals as a part of their celebrations, while simultaneously fulfilling their retail, entertainment and dining needs. And they play their part during the festive season by creating installations that are a visual delight, creating the right ambience and setting the right tone for the celebrations. The idea – to give consumers a never before visual experience and to ensure they go back with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
On the shopping centre front, the decorations have a positive impact on footfalls and consumption.
“Decorations in the festive season bring in the ‘celebration quotient’ and also give people a reason to spend more time in the shopping centre,” says Mukesh Kumar, CEO, Infiniti Mall.
“The shopping centre plays a very important role in attracting customers through visual representation and to create a sense of temptation for customers to come in for a great shopping experience,” adds Mahesh. M, CEO, Creaticity.
“Festivities are happy times of the year where everyone is in a celebration mode, looking to take time off work and spending time with family, and even extended families and friends. Mall installations and decorations work as an attraction and encourage more footfalls of loyal customers, while attracting new customers to explore the mall. They also help in elevating the mood of shoppers who generally look forward to this most exciting time of the year,” states Sachin Dhanawade, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Retail & Real Estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Limited.
According to Arjun Gehlot, Director, Ambience Malls, a thoughtfully planned décor creates greater awareness for the shopping centre and makes it a great marketing tool. “It is always appreciated by customers specially among the young generation.”
The mall comes alive with decorations, which are a part of experiential marketing – a strong factor that lures consumers, gives them a superior shopping experience and helps the mall gain traction on social media.
“It is experience that draws consumer to shopping centres and at Inorbit we work towards creating many sharable experiences,” says Naviin Ibhrampurkar, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Inorbit Malls.
The Evolution of Mall Decoration
Mall décor at shopping centres has evolved to serve as an attraction, elevate mood and encourage shopping. Festivities and activities at shopping centres are now focussed at offering a memorable family experience for its shoppers.
“Mall décor has certainly evolved over a period of time. Earlier shopping centres used the traditional approach of loud colours, lights, and props in corners. With time they centres have adapted to classy décor with the right combination of props, lighting, selfie points and clutter free placements. Nowadays they have started to implement innovative concepts for an immersive and holistic experience. The décor is a visual treat, helps in engaging consumers with interactive activities, records moments, memories and immortalise their experience through pictures. A great décor gets word-of-mouth publicity and automatically attracts footfalls. Unique and relevant décor concepts also generate wide coverage across media including organic posts on social media,” says Susil S. Dungarwal – Chief Mall Mechanic®, Beyond Squarefeet Mall Advisory & Management explaining it further.
Malls have begun exploring décor which have technology integrated in them such as use of projection mapping, motion activation, light programming, sensor-activation etc. making the décor truly experiential.
“Over the years, technology has developed and with it, décor too has seen major transformations. From static to 3D to mobile hoardings to digital façades, shopping centre decor is really going beyond the ordinary to give customers a better visual experience. It has transformed from being just ‘look and feel’ to actually triggering purchasing behaviour, for instance we create installations that induce customers to spend more time in shopping beyond celebrations,” explains Mahesh. M.
“Today visitors expect that shopping centres/ outdoor places will be well decorated for celebrations, customers look forward to engaging themselves with different activities that are part of the theme and the décor,” says Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director and CEO, Select CITYWALK.
“The idea and creativity that goes behind decorating a mall gives patrons an additional reason to visit shopping centres,” adds Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific Group.
Celebrating Amid a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted mall business for more than 5 months now and it still continues to do so. Additionally, the conservative customer approach has made it more difficult for malls to set off on a recovery path. As shopping centres struggle to sustain in these tough times, they have also understood the need to adopt COVID-19 safety measures to bring back consumers and are following the same rules in their festive decorations.
“The pandemic has made us all mindful of the most important values in life. It is important to move forward with resolve and gratitude, as it has had a massive impact on people. We want to make sure that this pandemic doesn’t hold back any of us to celebrate the festivities. Keeping in mind the safety of our visitors, the mall will be decorated in a way where everyone can enjoy and be part of it,” says Yogeshwar Sharma.
“This time, the décor will be limited to the main atrium and will not be on all the touch-points in the shopping centre as we have to consider social distancing as well,” Mukesh Kumar states.
“Elevating customer mood while festive shopping will be the focus this year,” adds Mahesh. M.
“This year’s décor will aim to lift the sentiments of the consumer, to bring in the festive cheer. After an emotionally and financially drained year, perhaps the mesmerising décor will bring in some excitement and hope for the next years,” says Sachin Dhanawade.
“We will be decorating our malls with the same enthusiasm as we do every year. Grand installations and quirky interiors will help us give consumers a unique shopping experience,” adds Bansal.
Will Festivities Bring Back the Lost Sheen?
This year has been a nil to low shopping year with malls shut for almost 3 months and people staying at home following the COVD-19 outbreak. Malls have now re-opened and are following all protocols for a safe and secure shopping experience. People cooped inside want to get out and will head to malls in the search for unique and safe experiences.
“A shopping mall is regarded as the safest place as it is a controlled environment with all the safety norms in place. This is one of the prime reasons that people come to us rather than exploring other places,” says Mukesh Kumar.
“The sentiments look positive and we are expecting a double-digit spike during the upcoming festive season. The last quarter of the year witnesses the peak of festive, followed by end of season sale in January, so we are expecting positive numbers,” states Naviin Ibhrampurkar.
“Since no one is travelling much this year, they want to travel to shopping centres and feel like they’ve gone places. At Creaticity we believe customers will be planning for their pre-festive shopping so that they can have pre-booking of home décor and furniture products especially during pre-festive months of September and early October,” states Mahesh. M.
“Post the successive unlocks, people have adjusted to the new normal and are now more accustomed to a contactless lifestyle. Social distancing and the need for stringent SOP’s has been the main reason for this change. With the opening of the corporate sector and public transport, we are very much hopeful to get back the same footfalls that we used to get prior to the pandemic,” adds Sharma.
“We have prepared ourselves to fulfil their wishes with utmost safety and precautions. The festive season is a time of merriment, indulging and spending more time with friends and family. This is a strong sentiment for bringing back the consumers to their favourite social hubs, where they can experience multiple retail and entertainment avenues all under one roof,” Bansal states.
“Having seen recent developments, we are witnessing growth in the market currently and basis on this, we can say that festive time should definitely do better. The sales and footfalls have been on an upward trend since the unlock procedure has started and we are hoping that this trend will continue,” adds Gehlot.

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