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What’s driving the growth of high street malls

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Industry leaders discussed why high street malls are increasingly becoming a preferred choice for retailers at Shopping Centres Next (SCN) 2023

Bengaluru: High street malls—organised developments on high streets—have been increasingly becoming an important consideration for retailers for opening their stores. Owning to their growing popularity the format was a hot topic of discussion at the Shopping Centres Next 2023 by IMAGES Group held on 3-4 October at the Conrad Hotel in Bengaluru.

Representatives of leading brands deliberated on the topic “Charting the path forward: The future of high street malls in a changing retail landscape” in a session moderated by Vivek Srivastava, managing director of Wisemen Retail, a service provider for retailers and developers.

The key distinction

Explaining the nature and merits of a high street mall, Sahil Kansal, head of property and franchising, Infiniti Retail – Croma, said, “A high street mall is a high street which is well organized and efficiently managed. When compared to traditional malls, high street malls tend to be more profitable. Despite the higher foot traffic seen in basic malls, consumers often engage in window shopping. Conversely, in high street malls, consumers are more inclined to make purchases,” he said.

Kansal also highlighted the distinctions between high street malls and standalone stores within a high street setting. “In a high street setting, retailers often have more control and autonomy. They manage store operations independently, unlike operating within a mall, where there may be more centralized management and shared responsibilities,” he said.

According to Tarandeep Singh, chief business officer, Bounce Inc India, “In essence, the parameters between regular malls and high street malls may be similar, but people tend to prefer high street malls because they offer the convenience of actual high streets for some shoppers. In the Indian retail landscape, there is a growing need for more large, formal malls like these to cater to diverse consumer preferences.”

Advantage High Street Malls

Sharing the perspective of his business, Indranil Banerjee, assistant vice president of business development at Wow! Momo explained that high street malls were an important part of the company’s offline footprint. “20% of our stores are located in the high street malls. One of the reasons retailers are increasingly opting for high street malls is due to the wealth of amenities and advantages they offer,” he said.

Sumit S Suneja, chief expansion officer at Bestseller India, a clothing and accessories company, had mixed feelings regarding the hype surrounding these malls. “10 -20% of Bestseller stores are located in high street malls. The relevance of high street malls can be cyclical, but their success ultimately hinges on offering the right mix of attractions and services to meet consumer needs and preferences,” he said.

One of the advantages of these malls is that consumers are more inclined to make purchases. “In high street malls, customers tend to be more specific about their needs, in contrast to regular malls where there are often many visitors who are simply browsing,” added Suneja.

“7-20% of our outlets are located in high street malls,” Rakesh Ajila, head – real estate expansion of Cure.fit, a Bengaluru-based health and fitness company.

Beyond metros

“High street malls, often functioning as neighborhood malls, have become increasingly popular due to their convenience, particularly for consumers in tier 2 cities,” Ajila said.

According to him, high streets may not be easily accessible to many in these areas, making neighborhood malls a more viable option.

“In the post-pandemic era, people have increasingly turned to nearby neighborhood malls, not only for shopping but also for activities like working out, reflecting a shift in consumer preferences,” added Ajila.

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