Malls report drop in visitors; IPL culprit?

Malls report drop in visitors; IPL culprit?

Mumbai: On most weekday evenings, pre-teens fill up malls, often with their families dragged along. But most malls have been reporting a marginal fall in visitors in the past few weeks, which, mall managers say, is because people are watching the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches and also due to a lack of hit movies that lure them to multiplexes — a standard feature in big malls.

Girish Pande, chief operating officer at E-City Property Management and Services Pvt. Ltd that manages 12 malls nationwide, estimates that the number of people walking into his malls has dropped around 20% due to IPL matches and lack of hit movies.

While business is normal in the mornings, “once the match starts in the evening, there are hardly any people," says Rajiv Agarwal, chief executive of the 750-store-strong mobile phone chain, The MobileStore.

The first edition of the Twenty20 IPL cricket championship had drawn 131 million viewers in its first fortnight, as reported in Mint on 12 May. But the ratings seem to be declining, according to later measurements.

Typically, summer months are busy at malls because of school vacations and the air conditioning. But things are a little different this time.

At Hypercity mall, a hypermarket in Mumbai’s western suburb of Malad, the number of customers walking in has dropped marginally, says Esha Anand, head of marketing and visual merchandising at Hypercity Retail India Pvt. Ltd.

But sales are up 10% since IPL started compared with the same period last year, Anand says. That could be, at least in part, because people are buying television sets to watch IPL action at home.

Anand says television sales are up 10% since the tournament started.

At Inorbit, a mall neighbouring Hypercity, there may have been only a slight drop in visitors, says Sanjay Prabhu, its general manager. This, he says, could be because there are six television screens in the food court and entertainment space at the mall.

“When people come to the food court, they will end up seeing the stores and shopping, too," says Prabhu.

At Big Bazaar, the 83-store-strong hypermarket chain of Pantaloon Retail India Ltd, there has only been a marginal drop in visitors, if at all, says Rajan Malhotra, head of Big Bazaar. It is because our shoppers are women and they don’t watch as much cricket, he says.

But, with actors such as Preity Zinta, Katrina Kaif, Shah Rukh Khan and others owning teams or being brand ambassadors, IPL is also drawing female audiences, says E-City’s Pande. “When the whole family is watching, the women end up staying (at home) and watching (cricket), too," he says.

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