Swanky malls are synonymous with the Millennium City. These commercial hubs had changed Gurgaon's landscape from a dusty town to a glittering global city in the making. However, they have not been able to sustain the hype as nearly 50-60% of the malls have failed to attract occupants to their full capacity. On the other hand, the ones that are relatively better-occupied have failed to draw the desired footfall.
According to the 2011 Census, Gurgaon's population has grown from 8,34,693 in 2001 to 15,14,085. In these years, the mall culture was another parallel growth. Gurgaon got its first mall, DLF City Mall, in 2003 and since then, 24 more have come up. Moreover, 11 of the city's 25 malls are located on a 2.5-km stretch between Iffco Chowk and Guru Dronacharya Metro Station on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road. That's why the area is popularly referred to as the Mall Mile.
Though malls here get relatively better business compared to those in other parts of the city, two to three on MG road have also reported sluggish business.
Four malls on Sohna Road and three on Golf Course Road have been struggling to stay afloat.
According to Anshuman Magazine, chairman & managing director of real estate consultancy firm CBRE, South Asia, most malls in Gurgaon and the National Capital Region have been built without professional planning to manage or promote them.
"The developers bought land, created concrete infrastructure, sold it to investors, who in turn sold it to many retailers. The absence of institutional ownership shifted the onus of running the malls successfully and profitably in the hands of many individual retailers who cannot invest time and money in promoting the entire mall," Magazine said.
This current scenario is unlike mall management in cities such as Singapore and Bangkok where institutional investors hire asset management firms with expertise in marketing. In the case of Gurgaon and NCR, individuals owners are direct participants in the mall business prospect. They need to plan and market their projects meticulously.
For example, the Select Citywalk Mall in South Delhi is managed through institutional ownership. As a result, it has been doing better business than malls in its vicinity too.
PS Puri, vice president, MGF Malls, said, "Not all malls in Gurgaon have been able to sell their themes. People do not know which mall specialises in what. Besides, many do not have a good food court or gaming zones that attract footfalls."
Parking and roads
Gurgaon's infrastructure such as connecting roads and limited parking in and around malls, further restrict footfall.
Virender Dawar runs 21 electronic showrooms in the city by the name of Dawar's Open World. Just two out of the 21 are located in malls. "While I have booked space for one more store in a mall, I will avoid them for now amid fewer footfalls to save on high rentals or maintenance charges," Dawar said.
No over supply
Magazine says 24 malls for a city with one and half million population is not many as compared to their numbers in foreign countries.