Home / News / India /  Select CITYWALK opens for the first time since March

It is a 13 year-old mall. Today, it carried the air of a new one, with balloons welcoming the few shoppers who landed up. Someone played piano — perhaps, to soothe nervous minds.

Select CITYWALK in south Delhi opened for the first time after the lockdown was announced in March but already, one could sense the taste of things to come — malls would never be as crowded as before, there would be elaborate, time-taking drills at the entrance and the retail staff would speak only from behind face shields.

In good times, pre-covid, Select CITYWALK generated footfalls of 35,000 on weekdays and nearly 50,000 over the weekends. About 2000 consumers landed up at the mall till about 3 PM on Monday. Not all shops are open yet — while the mall has 200 tenants, about 50% of them managed to get their stores up and running on the first day. Most of the food and beverage outlets remained closed.

“We haven’t stepped up any marketing yet. We are taking small steps in getting the systems and processes tested," Arjun Sharma, chairman of the Select Group said. “I estimate that over the next one month, we can get upto 40% of the footfalls we generated pre-covid. It would pick up more towards Diwali," he added.

Retailers, meanwhile, sounded more cautious on the demand front, particularly when it came to discretionary purchases.

“There might be some excitement of malls reopening but there is a lot of fear. It is not easy to re-open," Dilip Kapur, founder of leather accessories brand Hidesign said. “The demand pick up will be slow. We are all assuming that we have lost a year," he added.

The Hidesign store in Select CITYWALK is readying for a re-opening later in the week. “We just found out last night that Delhi is opening up. We are now sanitising the stock, not just the store. We have to also ensure that the staff comes from areas that are not containment zones," Kapur said.

So what’s the entrance drill? If one is walking up, there are three sanitation tunnels at the entrance. Those who are driving, have their tyres sanitised before entering the parking. The parking token and the money paid is sanitised too and placed in a tray. The lifts can accommodate only four at a time while the minimum distancing in an elevator is every two steps.

There are no design changes inside the mall yet although the food court looks more spacious. A table that could seat four now can only seat two — this mall had 500 seats in the food court which has now been reduced by half. When this writer visited the mall today, only 15 were sipping juices, tea and coffee in the food court. Two salons opened and one of them had a solitary customer getting her hair done. Many shops that opened advertised discounts. The next normal could perpetually be about this -- enter a store, and the retail staff gently points to boards that say 'save more'.

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