The Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI), in continuation of its weekly custom webinar series, ‘SCAI Mondays’; organised a second virtual session titled ‘Retail & Shopping Centres: Confidence Building Measures’ on May 4, 2020. The webinar aimed at redressing the unprecedented challenges arising out of COVID-19 pandemic for India’s shopping centre development ecosystem. It focused on the measures of prepping to reopen shopping centres in India.
The panelists discussed preparations and strategies that retailers and shopping centre owners will need to design in order to build consumer and partner confidence as India begins emerging from the restrictions. As the day also marked the beginning of the third phase of lockdown in the country and with the Government of India announcing major relief in terms of opening of stand-alone retail stores including liquor shops, the panelists talked about having a more organised method of opening malls and stores in days to come. With the shopping malls still facing closure pan India, the panelist spoke in one voice to seek both relief and stimulus to survive and create immediate and long-term strategies to revive. Amitabh Taneja highlighted on the key immediate tasks being undertaken by SCAI nationwide to roll out common guidelines and to work with partners towards reopening all operational shopping centres backed by stringent SOPs
The session was hosted by Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, SCAI and was moderated by Anuj Puri, Chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants Pvt Ltd. The industry leaders on the panel included:
Arjun Sharma, Chairman, Select Group
Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls
Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group
Irfan Razack, Chairman and Managing Director, Prestige Group
“The non-profit body has been active on multiple fronts since the lockdown through daily virtual meetings with stakeholders, making presentations to government functionaries, regulatory and civic administration bodies, community media and PR,” he added.
Shopping Malls to Remain Close in Lockdown
In a major announcement last week, the Government of India decided to extend the lockdown period till May 17, 2020 to fight COVID-19 situation. As per the new announcement, shopping malls, education institutions, religious places and public transport will remain shut in this third phase of the lockdown as well.
“It is unfortunate that shopping centres have still not been included amongst the sectors which have reopened in India. This is a situation of lack of understanding on the importance of retail being the forefront of the economy. Shopping centres are the second large contributor to the GDP. Reopening them is very essential not only for the economy but also in respect to safety measures being properly adhered to. Malls are a more controlled and safe environment than local markets on the parameters of social distancing. We believe the Government should allow at least the ones in green zones to reopen,” Taneja stated.
On being asked how things must go forward in cities which are in orange and green zones, in comparison to those in red zones, Irfan Razack, Chairman and Managing Director, Prestige Group expressed happiness and satisfaction as construction work can now begin.
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