After the capital city saw a deadly bout of Covid-19 cases, malls reopened. But the struggle to financially get back at its feet is still far from over
Major malls in Delhi NCR are facing the post-lockdown blues, where business is still restricted and are allowed to open only until 8 pm. Centres like Ambience mall in Gurgaon, DLF Promenade and Select City Walk in Delhi have a steady stream of customers, even Noida’s Mall of India, owned by DLF.
Unlike its neighbour, the Mall of India manages to pull in a good number of patrons
Malls, other than bringing together a shopping and eating experience under one roof, became a shelter from the storm, from the summer heat waves, and from the street hawkers you wanted to escape. This still holds true, but Covid induced lockdowns since March last year means the malls have dipping revenues and this could not be more evident than in Unitech’s Noida mall, the Great India Place. Here the tell-tale signs of a failing economy and business under pressure since last year can be seen in the closed shutters of many stores.
We contacted the mall via email but are yet to hear back on the same. We found far too many shops closed, every floor desolate with just a light trickle of customers which vanishes before you even begin to notice them. In fact, the mall looks like it’s ready to shut down, even its exterior decries its fate of being forgotten and uncared for.
A few customers are found in the food court. Which brings us to the restaurants and fast-food joints, where the business is so low that even fast-food giants like Mc Donald’s are closed here.
On the other hand, Mall of India, while it does not have as many people coming through as its Delhi counterparts, looks like it will make it through this pandemic and its consequent lockdowns.
Only two restaurants are closed here, namely Zizo and Carl’s Junior, while brands like H&M to Kaya are still very much functioning. The brands here are more similar to what South Delhi malls like Select city walk and Promenade have to offer, which perhaps helps this mall sustain.
Even on a weekday, there was a good number of patrons. While malls in Delhi and Gurgaon are allowed to open on weekends, it’s not the case with Noida which allows them to open weekdays up to 10pm.
On June 14, Delhi malls and market places were allowed to re-open after the city saw a deadly bout of Covid-19 cases, with one day cases going as high as 28,000 and deaths, which were accounted for, over 400 a day. But restrictions are still on for markets, market complexes and malls which can open between 10 am to 8 pm. Restaurants are allowed up to 50% of the seating capacity from 8 am to 10 pm and bars too are allowed up to 50% of the seating capacity from 12 noon to 10 pm.
Three weeks after malls in Gurgaon were permitted to reopen, a report in the Indian Express said there was a good recovery with the footfall having crossed “at least 30%” of what it was prior to the pandemic.
While some manage to recover, others like the GIP may have to take some more beating down before rising, if they can.
(Cover: Every floor is more desolate than the other at GIP Credit: Sashikala VP)
(All photos by Sashikala VP)