The pandemic period has been a testing time for retailers and the mall developers not only from the business, revenue and footfalls perspective but from consumer behavior as well. Due to COVID-19, the industry is witnessing a series of changes and trends on regular intervals and there is no pattern on which one can rely upon. Shopping mall developers and retailers are still figuring out to analyze the market and consumer trends as they look forward towards revival of the industry. The most common approach to tackle the aftermath of the pandemic, which was adopted by nearly every player in the field, was technology and digitalization.
In an attempt to understand the consumer trends and the market analysis, the Phygital Retail Convention (PRC) hosted a session titled ‘How To Analyse Market & Consumer Trends?’ from the shopping mall developers perspective. The idea of the discussion was to find the impact and approach of tenants and consumers towards the shopping mall in coming months.
The session was moderated by Sanjeev Mehra, VP, Quest Properties. The other panelists included:
Shibu Philips, Business Head-Malls, LuLu International Shopping Malls
Sunil Shroff, Head – Property Management (Malls), Lakeshore
Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO & ED, Select Infrastructure
Manoj K. Agarwal, Former CEO - Malls, Sheth Developers & Realtors, Viviana Malls
Benu Sehgal, Former CEO, Freeport Retail India
HOW MALL DEVELOPERS SURVIVED THE LOCKDOWN
The shutdown was an absolute bloodbath situation for us. We, being service providers, were unable to provide services to retailers, consumers and neither to the property holders. The question and the situation here was to save life or livelihood.
– Benu Sehgal
It was the most shocking incident for the industry as the time period of the lockdown was not known. The industry had never been closed down for such a long period and the situation was quite bad.
– Sunil Shroff
When the announcement of lockdown was made, the rst thing which came in the mind was the safety of everyone. The second thought was that of the hardship which the industry will have to face due to the shutdown. We thought of initiating a quick plan to handle various things, which included shutting down the mall, controlling the number of employees, security and other aspects with limited manpower.
– Manoj K. Agarwal
In January and February, we took it very lightly and were not serious about it. The rst reaction was denial as it was a very chaotic situation for all of us. Then there was rental issue which plagued us. The second reaction was that of shock but slowly we adjusted to the situation.
– Yogeshwar Sharma
It was really shocking for us and the most important thing in our minds was when the mall reopened, what were the challenges which we all were going to face. We were not sure how retailers were going to perform, when the customers are going to come back to malls, and we didn’t even know then how we were going to service the customers.
– Sanjeev Mehra
Change in Consumer Behaviour & New Trends
The lockdown caused uncertainty and complete confusion, with mall developers clueless on when their establishments would reopen and, what were the government directions that they would have to follow and how shoppers behave, what they buy.
Highlighting the analysis from the first phase of Unlock, Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO & ED, Select Infrastructure, recalls, “The first lockdown got over on April 15. Taking the learning from that situation, we had a meeting to analyze and discuss the next step. One idea was that there would be a steep rise in the revenge shopping, and we should be prepared to manage the queues. The second theory was that there is a situation of fear and chaos all around and nobody will come at all. There were case studies and examples from China of revenge buying and we too also wanted to be ready for a similar situation. However, on the other side, we also didn’t want to rush into things and were wondering whether we should move ahead in a more conservative fashion. Finally, we decided to order queue managers only if we got permission to re-open and people returned for shopping and after observing consumer behavior.
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