The biggest beneficiary from unlock guidelines seems to be malls, which were often shut over the weekends in many states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh due to the lockdowns. Footfalls were already anemic and the closure during weekends ensured that the two most prospective days were lost.
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“It was really becoming difficult that they were closed and from a consumer perspective it allows you to shop on the weekends,” said Dalip Sehgal, CEO of Blackstone-owned Nexus Malls. Now with the curb on timings gone and the latest orders things are expected to be normalized which will provide some fillip in the lead up to the festive season.
Nexus Malls, Sehgal said, was witnessing healthy sales in August with sales last week being more than in the same period last year in Punjab, and 76% in Ahmedabad.
For restaurants the decision to allow serving liquor is one step that is expected to buoy footfalls. “It is a relief that it (liquor) is off the negative list, something that has been keeping people off. But still consumption is not happening and it will take about 2 months for consumer confidence to restore,” said Anurag Katriar, president of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI). Executive say that if footfalls and consumption reach about 75% by December, then things will turn for the better else it will be a long haul.
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For pubs and bars, it will be the first time in months that they will be able to serve alcohol apart from the take-away services they had started in June. Pubs owners say they are ready with their seating arrangements and are waiting for further directives from the government. “The only concern going ahead will be overcrowding considering limited seats,” said Sibi Venkataraju, owner of brewpub Toit which has about 450 seats but will be reduced to half to maintain social distancing.
However, some executives caution that there is still discrepancy between the government and states when it comes to implementing the orders. While Haryana just did away with lockdowns during weekdays, West Bengal still has plans to impose those next month. “When Bengaluru imposed the second lockdown in July, business was bouncing back to normal but it crippled sentiments and it is yet to reach those levels,” said Arvind Mediratta, CEO of Metro Cash and Carry India.