BENGALURU: On Monday, several popular shopping malls in the city reopened after having been closed for over two months. But footfall was low and the usually bustling spaces wore a deserted look. Stores within malls were sparsely crowded and businesses saw a slow start. Whether in central Bengaluru where Garuda Mall wore a gloomy look or in South Bengaluru where Royal Meenakshi Mall saw only a few people, the general mood was lukewarm. According to a store manager at Royal Meenakshi Mall, they saw a footfall of over 2,000 between 10 am and 5pm.
But the stores painted a different picture with staff struggling to push sales. “A lot of collections that landed before the lockdown remained unsold, making it difficult for us to bring in new collections. Since morning we have made a sale of just about Rs 6,000,” a manager of a popular fashion brand told CE. With plans to start a vaccination drive within the mall, UB Venkatesh, managing director of Royal Meenakshi Mall, hopes that this will also mean brisk business for stores.
“We are starting a vaccination drive inside the mall which will be in place for the next two to three months,” he says, adding that the rent for stores was waived off during the lockdown period. One upon a time, trial rooms were bustling, with long queues being a common sight. However, that could be a thing of the past as many customers are likely to be wary of trying on outfits before a purchase. “What we’ve noticed today is that people are refusing trials despite us taking safety precautions. A garment that has been tried on will not be given to anyone else for 24 hours,” says Manjula K, adding that festival season in August is the only hope to draw customers.
A beauty and wellness store in another mall has stopped trial products for customers, keeping the health protocols in mind. “We have stopped giving samples to customers. This will indirectly hit the business,” says Nandini Balraj, store manager. Gadget stores, on the other hand, saw larger numbers with many checking out the latest phones available.
“We have made a sale of `3 lakh since morning,” says a salesperson. In recent years, malls have become synonymous with multiplexes. Some like movie buff Sirish K were missing that experience. ”Theatres and popcorn are a hallmark of mall culture. The last four months were very stressful. Coming here is a sort of breather although I miss watching movies on the big screen,” he says.