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How Will the Mall Business Be in A Post COVID-19 World?

By Retail4Growth Team | April 22, 2020

Cinemas will be the last to revive. Food, and entertainment will take time to revive as well. Home, electronics, fitness equipment might bounce back soon. Value fashion will follow. Branded goods, branded fashion, might take a little longer to revive, say thought leaders during a recent webinar

Retailers Association of India (RAI) hosted a Webinar titled ‘Malls in a Post COVID-19 Scenario: From Recovery to Revival’ on 21 April. The panel comprised thought leaders from the mall and retail industries including Alok Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, Inox Leisure Ltd; Ashwin Puri, Co-Founder & CEO, Lake Shore India; Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls, a Blackstone company; Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants; Vishak Kumar, CEO, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle (MF&L), Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd. (ABFRL). 

Here are some key takeaways:

Changing Consumer Behaviour

  • If your brand is able to demonstrate wellness and a high level of relevance, it will win consumer patronage.
  • Right now it’s about essentials and that’s why people are looking towards e-commerce. Once they see that shopping centres are safe, consumers will return to malls for shopping.
  • Consumers are going to be less experimental with food now. Because there’s going to be less expendable income. So they will only go to those brands that they trust.
  • The first to come out of this crisis will be the millennials and Gen-Z. Their fear factor is a lot lesser and they’ve also managed to save some money which is not something that they’re not used to.

Effects on Industry

  • Cinemas will be the last to revive. Food and entertainment will take time to revive as well. Home, electronics, fitness equipment might bounce back soon. Value fashion will follow. Branded goods, branded fashion, might take a little longer to revive.
  • The reason that there is a tug between landlords and business owners is not because of the uncertainty that is in the atmosphere right now but because there is uncertainty about where the business is headed after the lockdown.
  • All Cinema operators will have to reduce their F&B menus and stagger interval timings.
  • On opening, most businesses in malls will inmost probability run a single shift (2pm to 11pm) focusing on peak leisure time.
  • Malls and retailers will have to work on a no-lose no-lose formula for the next few months and win-win after that. Wherever the govt. comes in it has to pass on to the entire industry.

Advice for Businesses

  • Businesses must focus on the 4Ss: Safety of employees and customers, securing supply of employees, sourcing the right inventory and securing the trust of the shopper.
  • Right now is the time to review and renew SOPs, reskill employees so that they are better equipped and have an array of skills to be able to multi-task when stores open again.
  • The first 90 days post-lockdown are about winning over the trust of the millennials and Gen-Z.
  • Brands must get digital influencers on board to communicate and win over consumer trust once the lockdown is levied along with brands doing their own communication.
  • Businesses will have to over-manage and focus on cost-reduction especially when it comes to franchisees.
  • Safety of customers and employees should be paramount. Even one single case will put the clock back a few months.
  • The biggest challenge is value retention. So businesses must look at cost-cutting but not at the risk of losing value.
  • The short tail of a retailer’s/ mall’s/restaurant’s customer base will become very important and it is here that they should focus on.
  • Finally, the focus should be on winning consumer confidence and bringing them back.

 

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