Pune, 5th May 2020: Amidst the absolute uncertainty and little respite coming from the government to provide relaxation to the shopping centres industry, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) has reached out to the State Government including the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office and other relevant officials in the state with a set of SOPs and guidelines for the reopening of Malls in the country. SCAI has asserted and collectively with industry captains, endorsed the ability of shopping centres to enforce protocols in a far more efficient manner than many others who have benefited from the relaxation. While preparing the SOPs, SCAI has held several consultations with the Captains of the Industry as well as adopted global best practices to ensure that the spread Covid-19 is contained.
Drawing on recent reports on the long queues that were witnessed across the country to buy liquor where social distancing norms were openly flouted, SCAI reiterated the need for stringent SOPs and emphasised on the industry’s ability to provide a safe and a hygienic environment while ensuring social distancing norms are ensured. SCAI is hopeful that the government will consider and intervene to support the shopping centres industry to protect 12-million livelihoods that could be at risk as the fate of organised retail remains uncertain. The retail industry contributes over 10% to India’s GDP, the second largest after agriculture. Moreover, it employs over 8% of the overall workforce making it the third largest in the country.
Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, SCAI said, “SCAI has been advocating the need for concerted support from the Government and Financial Institutions towards the survival and long-term sustainability of organised retail trade in India. The decentralized strategy to exit the lockdown is grounded by firm guidelines that will help in the economic recovery. As an industry, we are responsible for the livelihood of 12 million people across the country and firmly believe that that the fate of these livelihoods can be protected. The EHS guidelines (SoPs) submitted to the government today is one step forward in the right direction to help the most important stakeholder – the government – in kickstarting the economy at the earliest.”
SCAI recently concluded a webinar on confidence building measures with icons of the shopping centres industry in India including Arjun Sharma, Chairman, Select Group, Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls, Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group and Irfan Razack, Chairman and Managing Director, Prestige Group.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SESSION : SHOPPING CENTRES AND MALLS ARE A SAFE TO OPEN; BRINGING BACK THE CONSUMER
✦ For the country’s economic health, shopping malls must be allowed to open in the green zones
✦ Only shopping centres can provide a safe and hygienic environment to 100% accountability and enforcement of social distancing norms
✦ Malls are a social infrastructure, not just meant for shopping; cater to all classes of society. They are a place for the common man to come, spend time and socialise.
✦ The India story and the retail story is intact. There is a huge pent up demand. India is a country of shoppers and has a huge latent demand. India is a land of savers; can’t change the psyche of Indiana. Shoppers will ultimately start coming out.
✦ While the fear in the consumers mind is high, mortality rates in India have been low. We need to allay the fears of the consumer.
✦ Malls are equally safe, if not more, compared to any establishment allowed to open up
✦ Mall owners are taking every step possible to bring the consumer back post-Covid
o Working towards providing safety and a hygienic environment
o Ensure masks are made compulsory
o We can control inflow of people
o Can devise mechanisms where for e.g. allow only 50% occupancy at food courts
o Open coffee shops at 50% occupancy
✦ 3-stage revival process for the industry:
o NOW : Survival and opening up to bring back the confidence;
o Next 90-120 days – recovery, reimagine and re-energise the business model
o Phase 3 : focus on regrowth by Diwali where we anticipate 80 – 100 percent consumers returning
✦ Atleast half the customers are back in international markets where malls have opened up; we need to gain confidence and trust of the consumers. 30-40 percent consumers are dying to return to malls. The numbers are gradually increasing.
✦ There will be a need to reimagine how malls can continue to provide the same level of engagement in the post-Covid times.
SCAI is a non-profit organisation, set up with the vision to engage and encourage the development of shopping centres / malls in India; to play anchors role in evolution of Indian shopping centre industry, helping it to merge into larger society & the economy; and representing shopping centre industry in various national and international forums.