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Footfalls fall in Mumbai malls

Monsoon has been lean season for mall owners. This monsoon, things have turned even leaner, thanks to the spiralling inflation rate. And it is reflecting in the footfalls, writes Saurabh Turakhia.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2008 23:28 IST
Saurabh Turakhia

Monsoon has been lean season for mall owners. This monsoon, things have turned even leaner, thanks to the spiralling inflation rate. And it is reflecting in the footfalls.

“Earlier, our weekend footfall used to be 45,000 to 50,000,” said Sanjay Prabhu, general manager of Inorbit Malls. “This has now come down to 30,000 to 35,000. The average ticket price has fallen by 10 per cent when compared to last year.”

However, most mall and food joints owners are quick to point out that a slowdown in business may not be wholly attributed to inflation.

“The June-August season is usually a slack period in restaurant business as vacations end and schools re-open around this time,” said Kamlesh Barot, director, Encore Hotels —which runs a chain of ‘thali’ outlets in the city. “However, with penny power going down people have become more choosy about where they eat.” He added that their snack outlets in multiplexes as well as supermarkets across Mumbai have seen a marginal dip in footfalls.

Inflation-hit shoppers, on their part, are making their own adjustments. Satish Rajamani, a 27-year-old consultant with a Bangalore-based company, no longer visits multiplexes to watch movies, preferring to go to single-screen cinemas where tickets are cheaper “Earlier, I used to spend Rs 4,000 on eating out,” he adds. “(Now) that has come down to Rs 3,000.”

The retail sector too has seen a mixed quarter. “While value retailing has not altered much, fashion retailing has definitely been affected,” said Ashok Maheshwari, managing director of Home Care. “Overall spending has come down by 20 per cent.” Home Care owns the Magnet chain of stores.

On the other hand, value retailers like Big Bazaar and Vishal see an opportunity in inflation, and are wooing consumers with sales promotions. “We saw two clear trends of down-trading in the food space,” said Rajan Malhotra, CEO of Big Bazaar. “Many consumers have made a shift from sunflower oil to mustard oil and from basmati rice to ordinary rice.”

A Vishal Retail spokesperson said there had been no visible difference in footfalls or sales of the company.

Some retail formats have gone for price hikes to tackle inflation, which has caused a decline in consumption. “Our prices in packaged food have gone up by 3-5 per cent and by around 10 per cent in staples,” said Esha Anand of HyperCity Retail. “This has led to a slight decrease in consumption though the overall cash memo size remains healthy because customers are trading up to other high-end products and contribution from general merchandise and fashion has increased.”