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Shopping Centre heads predict recovery time as footfalls, sales pick up

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Sandeep Kumar
Sandeep Kumar
A multimedia journalist with over eleven years of experience in print and digital media, Sandeep Kumar is assistant editor with Images Group. Books, retail, sports and cinema are an inextricable part of his life.

The COVID-19-led shutdown recovery period for malls in India has been slow but steady. While Tier II & III malls picked up first and started raking in sizeable footfalls and sales, Tier I malls soon followed, picking up the pace. Most malls have been predicting that recovery will take place in the next three months if there is no further lockdown.

Inorbit malls has reached 65-70 percent of their last year consumption. Festival season has seen an encouraging start and the brand is expecting good growth ahead.

“DLF has reached close to 60 percent sales of pre-COVID days. The sales growth has increased to 35 percent during this festive season. And If we don’t see the second COVID wave, then we are hoping by year-end we should recover up to 80 percent. But returning to normalcy is a long-driven path and it is correlated to the Coronavirus vaccine. The current sentiments indicate a promising festive season and a New Year. We are positive that there will be a substantial increase by the end of the year. The industry to revive back to the pre-COVID level may take up a year,” says Pushpa Bector, Executive Director, DLF Retail.

“The fashion industry was hit hard because of the pandemic, getting back to normalcy considering the business and revenue it took the segment quite some time. With the festive and the wedding season, brands have now started generating visible sales and soon with the complete unlocks the fashion segment will top the charts. In the current times, it is too soon to predict the revival of the industry. Post the successive unlocks we hope things turn fruitful for retailers across and it helps in increasing the competition and enhances the finances for all in the coming times,” states Yogeshwar Sharma, Executive Director & CEO, Select CITYWALK.

“On a YoY comparison, we are hoping to achieve 80 percent of overall sales of last year. Categories like CDIT (consumer electronics, Durables, IT, and telephones) have already crossed last year’s numbers and are doing exceedingly well. Salon, footwear, home related categories are also performing well. Fashion though had a slow start, but with Diwali approaching that too along with Beauty has started to pick up steadily. Looking at the present trend of planned and need based shopping, we believe that recovery for malls is achievable in the next six months. The re-opening of Cinemas will add a further impetus to the overall sales. We are hopeful FEC permissions will come in soon, which will boost overall shopping activity at malls,” says Sachin Dhanawade – Chief Operating Officer (COO) Retail & Real Estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Limited, which operates Growel’s 1O1 Mall.

“Considering the push in sale due to festive season and upcoming marriage season, we may conclude that if not 100 percent, but atleast the market has returned to 90 percent normalcy as far as business and revenue for fashion segment is concerned. We got an impressive boost in sale due to ‘Durga Puja’ and expecting high that marriage season will help in recovery for fashion and other segments as well. Although we have reached to almost 90% normalcy, we think for all categories to consider, it will take 1st quarter of next financial year to recover. AW EOSS 20-21 will boost the market to recover in addition,” states Arijit Chatterjee, COO, Junction Mall.

Mall Performances

DLF Malls: “Athleisure is proving to be the fastest-growing fashion category during COVID times,” says Bector.

Local brands are responding well during the festive times at DLF. “We are positive that they will bounce back soon. The Make in India brands like The Wishing Chair, Isharya Jewellery, Suvasa and many more housed in DLF Malls are doing good sales during this festive season. With continuous improvement in footfall numbers, augurs hope of a strong sales rebound,” she explains.

Post lockdown, DLF has launched several fashion brands across its portfolio. For instance, DLF Mall of India recently launched the store of Japanese retailer brand, Uniqlo. Kazo and Carpisa have also launched their store at the mall. DLF Avenue Saket witnessed the store launches of Desigual, Go Sports and Perona brands recently.

At DLF Promenade, some new brands have been added including Two Faced and ORRA. At DLF City Centre, Chandigarh Pantaloons was successfully launched in October 2020 as have Kazo, Van Heusen, Spykar, and Blackberry in November 2020. There were hardly one or two stores who left the mall during the lockdown period.

“Post reopening, the recovery has been positive, and customers are responding well across our malls,” says Bector.

Select CITYWALK: “Consumers so far were working from home and therefore the focus was on categories such as casual wear and athleisure. But since October 2020, people have started going to work and also are travelling to the nearest tourist destination, and with festivals around, we are now noticing a lot more happening with ethnic wear and formal wear. We have seen a lot of accessory brands doing well too,” says Sharma.

Small/regional brands like Beaumonde, Needledust, Outhouse, Kama, Firest Essentials are doing extremely well in the mall.

The shopping centre witnessed the launch of Decathlon post-re-opening, while Zara recently reopened with a larger floor area and EA7 Emporio Armani – which is not just couture but focuses on athleisure too – has opened its first store in India at Select CITYWALK.

“Brands have very quickly evolved to incorporate a more ‘Phygital’ era of sale and purchase. Consumers now prefer experiences that bring them closer to products and not people, they prefer virtual tours and personal shoppers instead of stepping out too often to make the purchase. As part of the ‘New Normal’, Select CITYWALK introduced a suite of services to ensure comfort and convenience to consumers by offering a seamless retail experience. These services offer hassle-free access to products and a process with minimal human interaction,” says Sharma.

Inorbit Malls: 70 percent of the Inorbit Malls is fashion heavy. “We have observed more demand for categories like electronics, fitness and lifestyle, skincare and jewellery across our malls. Interestingly, in the last few months, some categories like cosmetics have seen more growth compared to last year sales,” says Naviin Ibhrampurkar, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Inorbit Malls.

The pandemic has encouraged brands to thing beyond the regular and explore new opportunities to get closer to consumers. “All brands have re-aligned their strategies, they are ensuring customers get best discounts, offers and collection. They are also providing services like video call shopping, home deliveries and better exchange / return policies. We are happy many brands joined the Inorbit family. Birkenstock, Coldstone & Haldirams opened at Cyberabad, Latt Liv at Vashi and Peora, Iravsa & Café Delhi Heights at Malad,” he adds.

Growel’s 1O1 Mall: “If we look at the recovery percentages for various segments as growth, Ethnic-wear has grown significantly, recovering up to 140 percent, largely because of the festive season. Other categories largely like sports-wear and casual wear, aided by a large number of people still working from home, have recovered between 60- 70 percent (y-o-y). Formal wear is still struggling at about 30 – 40 percent (Y-o-Y). Footwear as a category is also doing fairly very well especially sports footwear, with sales at 75 percent as compared to last year (Y-o-Y),” says Dhanawade.

While Growel’s 1O1 Mall doesn’t house many small regional brands, those present have seen a slower recovery of about 20 percent to 25 percent as compared to the more established players.

Aurelia, an ethnic womenswear brand recently opened doors at the mall, while beauty brands My Glamm and Lotus are opening as well.

Besides this, there are five additional global fashion brands that have shown interest in opening stores at the mall and talks are underway for the same. The mall has been lucky enough not to have even one exit during the lockdown.

“In fact, Reliance Trends & Esbeda have surpassed recovery and have seen growth as compared to last year festive season (Y-o-Y). Reliance Trends saw a great momentum in the ethnic-wear collection going off the shelves,” states Dhanawade.

Junction Mall: In the initial months post lockdown, footwear, leisure wear, casual wear etc were sharing the major portion in the revenue. As the festive season approached, all categories started performing, particularly casual and ethnicwear segments.

“In the initial months, small / regional fashion brands struggled due to lack of stock supply and logistic related issues. Gradually, they started coping well with the supply and managed to grab the festive market” says Chatterjee.

Junction Mall saw the opening of many stores including Me n Mom, Zodiac, Allen Solly and Trends Junior after the lockdown. Also, two formats Jus Jumpin – a kids play store – and Manish Creation have been signed on and were under fitout. One brand which exited the mall during the lockdown was Aurelia.

Some brands which had record business sales included Blackberry, Shopper’s Stop, Pantaloons and 

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