Malls becoming entertainment cum shopping centres due to online market

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Mumbai: As e-commerce continues to eat into traditional retail including modern trade, shopping malls are remodelling and rearranging themselves as recreation centres offering a 'shopentertainment' experience to customers, say industry experts.

According to Knight Frank, since technology savvy millennials prefer the online platform to meet their shopping needs, malls cannot let themselves be a mere aggregation of fancy stores but they need to evolve and reflect the changing aspirations and lifestyle, if they have to survive.

A recent JLL survey reveals that net absorption of retail space in H1 2018 increased over 75 per cent, recording a total absorption of 1.9 million sq ft. For the second half, it expects fresh supplies of 3.7 million sq ft in the top seven cities.

According to industry experts, F&B (food and beverage) entertainment, including music, movies, activities, is claiming more space in malls today and its contribution is likely to increase to around 30 per cent across the markets from the meagre 8 to 9 per cent now.

"Over the years it has been observed that a customer may not want to shop, but if the mall engages him through promotions and events and creates more space for holding activities like food festivals and concerts, they will be able to attract more footfalls which may convert into sales," Infinity Malls chief executive Mukesh Kumar told PTI.

He said his company plans to allocate nearly 50 per cent of the mall space for such F&B, pop-up stores and entertainment. Echoing similar views, DLF Shopping Malls head Pushpa Bector said there is a need to create smart malls with infrastructure which will be high on technology, interactive through consumer devices and energy efficient.

"There is a demand for good quality malls. Therefore, it becomes imperative to create all inclusive smart malls if we have to sustain in this competitive market," Bector said. "Malls should evolve from being just a shopping centre to a town hall. Also, it should shift its approach from being a cookie cutter and adopt more flexible products," she said.

Bector said DLF is considering to increase the share of entertainment space to over 25 per cent with the right mix of product offerings. Experts believe that mall retailers should also adopt innovation, apart from just offering discounts, to attract customers and convert footfall into billing.

Tata Trent's R A Shah said, "It is necessary that retailers also evolve over the years. The brick-and-mortar formats will have to harmonise technology with the human experience that will give them an edge over the online platform and thus bring back footfalls to the stores." "We ensure that we change our store formats as frequently as possible," Shah said.

Another industry expert said certain online retailers are partnering with offline shopping centres and stores offering 'buy online and pick at store' facility, which draws extra footfalls and can eventually enlist fresh buying.

Similarly, malls and stores are also offering facilities like 'buy in store and get it delivered at home', which will facilitate customers who are not going back home after shopping.

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