The rapidly spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the resulting restrictions imposed by several state and local authorities have started to impact retailers, traders and multiplex owners.
Sectors that have faltered under COVID-induced restrictions for nearly two years are now bracing for another year of uncertainty and loss of business.
Take the high street retail segment, for example. With strict orders on their operating hours in place, mall owners are complaining that they have already lost 20% of their customers in the past week.
According to Mukesh Kumar, chairman and director of the board of directors of the Association of Shopping Centers of India (SCAI) and CEO of Infiniti Malls, attendance across the country has fallen 15-20% since January 2. (Monday).
“The impact varies from region to region, between subways and non-subways, depending on the location of the malls and their scale. But the impact has been felt across the country. “Kumar told Business Today. SCAI represents the owners of approximately 1,000 shopping centers in the county.
Besides the schedule, restrictions on the number of seats in restaurants (50%), multiplexes (33-50%) and weekend closings in major markets like Delhi and Bengaluru are proving detrimental.
According to Manoj Singh, Cluster Director for Karnataka at Nexus Malls, weekend curfews would have a significant impact on shopping center activities. “Not operating on weekends would mean losing 50% of our business,” Singh told Business Today. Nexus operates three shopping centers in Bangalore, one in Mysore and one in Mangalore.
“The shopping center industry has so far been among the last to be allowed to reopen as part of the unlocking phases. This has had a significant impact on our businesses over the past 18 months. We had barely started to stabilize our businesses, and these restrictions will create big bumps in our livelihood. The weekend closings could also lead to job losses, so maintain, “he added.
Closing multiplexes (in markets like Gurugram) or limiting occupancy levels (in many markets like Delhi, Chandigarh, among others) is the biggest drag, lament owners of shopping centers across the country. “Multiplexes and food courts are the biggest draws for most properties,” Kumar said.
According to Kailash Gupta, CFO of the large INOX Leisure Ltd. multiplex, the restrictions on seats and the timing of operations, “have certainly had an impact on the strong recovery momentum created by the industry in more ways than one. “.
“While we need to redesign our operational dynamics in accordance with state-specific restrictions, we are also seeing announcements about the release dates of many films being pushed back. Most of these films were expected to generate huge revenues due to the high quality of the content they offered, and therefore dealt a blow to the overall recovery phase and the growth momentum, ”he noted.
Gupta further added that INOX had started attending full shows and overall occupancy, which was the same as pre-COVID times for a period of three to four weeks.
“Our performance in the third quarter and in particular in December not only dismissed virtually all conversations about the future of the film exhibition industry, but also restored the confidence of content producers in theatrical release. More importantly, our F&B and ad revenue had also started to follow a solid upward trajectory, ”Gupta told Business Today.
The uncertainty surrounding the booming third wave of COVID has also strained traders and retailers. Unlike earlier, this time around hardly any retailer offered end-of-season sales offers, industry players said.
In addition, the sudden increase in the number of cases and the restrictions imposed by the authorities may have a serious impact on the activities of the wedding season, according to estimates by the highest industrial body, the Confederation of All Indian Traders ( CAIT).
According to CAIT, the wedding season which typically brings a business opportunity worth Rs 4 lakh crore for traders and retailers, will be put on hold this year.
“The wedding season will last between January 14th and 31st, when we are seeing 30 lakh weddings across the country and a turnover of over Rs. 4 lakh crores. But the wedding business is now likely to drop. ‘being reduced to a merger Rs.1.5 lakh crore, devastating the hopes and aspirations of traders to do good business during this second period of the wedding season, ”said BC Bhartia, ACIT National President.
Besides the traders, the owners of shopping malls and multiplexes, the retailers are in the same soup. According to Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of the Retailers Association of India (RAI), the state-imposed weekend curfew “is a nightmare for retail businesses like stores, restaurants and malls because it involves many many restrictions akin to partial locking ”.
Sudden overnight restrictions such as these create uncertainty for businesses and confusion in the minds of consumers and lead to congestion, exceeding the purpose of such measures. A more appropriate step. would have been a better reinforcement of appropriate COVID behavior in public places like wearing masks, adequate disinfection and social distancing, ”he said.
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