At Ghatkopar’s R City mall, it will be mandatory for all customers to book a prior appointment through the website. Inorbit malls are offering slots for shopping, while Korum Mall in Thane has created a QR code-based appointment system.
Managements expect business to pick up quickly once establishments open. A survey by Thane’s Viviana Mall revealed 50% shoppers wanted to visit as soon as the curbs were lifted. “Customers have favoured contactless options for ordering food, payment and delivery intimation at the food court. They haven’t shown a preference for trying out merchandise at apparel and footwear stores,” said CEO Manoj Agarwal. Within a week of opening in Lucknow, electronics and departmental stores at malls did brisk business. But with fears still looming, it will be incumbent on malls to create an atmosphere of safety. Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) has suggested an area of 75 sq feet per person, which means that for a mall spread over 1.5 million sq feet, a maximum of 20,000 people will be allowed inside at any given time. High Street Phoenix and Palladium are using AI-based software with face recognition which will count the number of visitors entering and exiting. “We will have UV sterilization of baggage during X-ray scanning and chemically embedded mats at the mall entrance to disinfect shoes,” said Rajendra Kalkar, president (West), Phoenix Mills. Others have wheel disinfection pits to sanitise tyres of vehicles entering the mall.
The Aarogya Setu app is a requirement for many and customers will be denied entry if their status isn’t green. In washrooms, only alternate urinals and washbasins will be available for use, while sensor-based taps and soap dispensers will be installed. Some malls are planning tie-ups with doctors, and ambulances may be kept on standby too.
Mall employees will undergo more stringent checks as well. Strict SOPs have been laid down for all retail and mall staff and they have been undergoing training sessions during the lockdown.