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Shoppers stop, sales flop

The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the confidence of the Capital’s citizens, and triggered a panic about what the next few weeks will bring 

A USUALLY packed Mall of India in Noida wears a desolate look on the weekends. There are only a couple of customers in most of the stores and the restaurants are empty. The malls in UP have not yet been shut down, as have been done by the Gurugram administration.

While the staff can be seen wearing masks and gloves at the malls, the restaurants too greets you with sanitizers.

“We decided on getting a reservation at a restaurant which is mostly crowded on weekends. When we came here, it seemed totally unnecessary as it was mostly empty,” says Jayati, who came to catch up with her friends for lunch. The panic over the Coronavirus seemed to have taken over not only social media but real life as well

NOIDA AT STANDSTILL

While crossing the market at Sector 18 in Noida, we came across a suitcase shop, with the boards shouting “50% off” and “End of Season Sale” at the entrances. As we went inside, we were greeted by a shopkeeper with a smile, who showed us his collection of suitcases of different companies. The road outside the shop was empty, and the shop itself was unusually quiet despite
the sale.

“Sales have come down since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. We have witnessed more than 60% drop in the income of this showroom, and stare at an uncertain future”, says Shakil, the manager of the store.

However, the most startling thing he said is that there is no discount being offered.“We just put the posters outside so that we can attract more and more customers to our store”, he confesses.

Sector 18’s Wake Up Sid Café is usually a hotspot for youngsters who come to visit the area. The newly opened café which usually sees a huge footfall, saw a huge slump due to the Covid-19 crisis. “I opened my shop around November and within no time this became a hotspot in the area. Till now, I was selling around 100-150 burgers a day, and 200 plates of momos. Today I have sold just five burgers and six plates of momos”, says Siddharth, owner of the café.

“We are jampacked during the weekends,” says the owner of a popular restro bar in Noida, who does not wish to reveal his identity. “We have around 200 customers here on a packed day. This weekend, our restaurant went empty”, he adds.

PVR Cinemas at Logix City Centre Mall in Noida, too saw a pretty low amount of footfall, in spite the fact that the theatres were not banned in Uttar Pradesh till March 17. The theatre manager at the multiplex says that even on Saturday and Sunday, despite the release of the new movie Angrezi Medium and the Tiger Shroff starrer Baaghi 3, footfalls have drastically come down.

NOIDA, INDIA – MARCH 16: A man wearing a protective mask at sector 18 market following multiple positive cases of coronavirus on March 16, 2020 in Noida, India. (Photo by Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

“There has been a 90% decrease in ticket sales, and on weekends when usually our theatres are 60-70% full, and sometimes even 90% in the case of a movie like Baaghi 3, the occupancy was around 15-20%”.

A BLANK CANVAS

Most galleries and cultural spaces in the city have also shut down due to the current situation. Some major centres like the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bikaner House Kiran Nadar Museum of Art have also temporarily closed their doors.

“In light of the growing health concerns around the Covid-19 outbreak and the government’s health advisory in Delhi, we have decided to cancel all cultural events in the remainder of the month of March,  2020. For artists, seasoned and new, the Habitat is a sought-after institution to be associated with, so the cancellation of all programmes is a difficult decision for all of us, taken in cognisance of the health concerns of our artistes, guests and the larger public,” reads the statement of India Habitat Centre.

While most cultural events are cancelled, viewing of artworks in some of the galleries is still open but there are restrictions. For instance, viewers can visit Gallery Latitude 28 only by making a prior appointment. Not just galleries, most theatre spaces are also closed till the end of March.

A LOSS FOR SPORTS

The Delhi Women’s League, which came back after a long hiatus, marked a significant step in the improvement of women’s football in the capital. The tournament, equivalent to the Delhi Men’s Soccer League, is an extremely important step to send the women of the capital to the national footballing scene. However, the tournament, scheduled to be held on March 8-26, was also called off.

Delhi Soccer authorities have expressed their displeasure at the cancellation of the tournament, which could have been a huge stepping stone in the women’s game.

The Shooting World Cup, the biggest event in the sport, scheduled to be held in Delhi this year had to be cancelled because of the rising threat from the Covid-19.

DELHI’S MARKETS EMPTY

Managing to find a parking space at Greater Kailash 2 Market is very rare on a Friday evening, but the emptiness of the place makes it almost unrecognisable. Most of the restaurants and pubs in the market did not see more than 10 customers coming in for the entire evening

“Even a terror strike could not stop Delhi shoppers from coming out but they have now walled themselves inside homes,” said Ashok Manchanda, president, Lajpat Nagar Traders’ Association, in a statement to the press. Estimates say that the market which sees a footfall of around three lakh customers per day, saw a drastic fall of more than 60% in sales.

People are seen wearing a mask as precautionary measure over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, at the Connaught Place in New Delhi India on March 16, 2020. On Monday, the state government in the capital of New Delhi barred the assembly of more than 50 people and ordered closure of nightclubs and pubs. The Union Health Ministry said that 114 patients are being treated across the country. (Photo by Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Trade unions say that busy market areas like Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh and Sadar Bazar saw a dip in sales by as much as 80%.

Sarojini Nagar Market, which is a hotspot among college-goers in the capital, bore a desolate look throughout the weekend, as people were seen distributing masks and sanitisers to the customers

The Karol Bagh and Gaffar Markets suffered a loss of more than a few crores, according to a press statement by the association.

The Delhi government has asked restaurants and bars to remain shut till March 31 due to the spread of the pandemic. On Sunday, March 22, PM Narendra Modi has asked for a Janata curfew, meaning that no person can go out on the day, hence all businesses in the city can be affected

Fears of job loss are also looming large in trade circles.

Over the past one week, a Delhi-based human resource consulting firm has already received seven requests, four from retail firms and three from travel companies. These companies have requested the hiring firm to inform new hires that their job offers are on hold till further notice.

“We are in a fix because these were fresh hires and they were to join in the first week of April. For retail specifically, this is their ‘end of season sale’ period and hence there was a higher requirement of staff at the shop-floor level. But with malls shut across the country due to novel Covid-19, outbreak, job losses have begun,” said the executive director at a recruitment firm to Moneycontrol.com