Kolkata: The craze in Kolkata over Durga Puja has catapulted city malls miles ahead of their counterparts in the rest of the country, recording higher footfall and revenue in the run-up to Durga Puja. Mall operators in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai are hoping the confidence of customers in Kolkata will rub off on the local customers in their cities ahead of Diwali in mid-November and bring some joy in a year of gloom.
From Monday to Sunday, the 11 malls in the city clocked around 12 lakh customers and registered revenue of Rs 80 crore. And there is another weekend left before the Pujas. “We expect footfall and sales to be even higher next weekend as maximum people usually shop at the eleventh hour. This year that may be the case as well since many people are still undecided on whether to step out or stay in. Yet, the numbers that city malls have clocked amidst the pandemic is eons ahead of what shopping centres in other metros have managed this season,” said Quest mall vice-president Sanjeev Mehra.
He felt that the first mover’s advantage also played a part. “Malls in Kolkata opened on June 8, much before those in the rest of the country. Additionally, there are the sentiments that Durga Puja evokes,” Mehra said.
Not just retail, even food and beverage have done phenomenally well during the week. “The food court and restaurants have earned nearly 25% more revenue in the week than they did two weeks ahead of Puja last year. While Kolkatans are known for their love for food, even we are surprised by the numbers,” admitted South City mall vice-president Manmohan Bagri.
Though retail is yet to reach last year’s figures, it has recovered 70% in several malls. Ramesh Pandey, whole time director at Ambuja Neotia that owns and operates City Centre I and City Centre II, said though retail revenues were lower than last year, the conversion rate or percentage of people that walk in and also make a purchase is higher than the previous year’s.
“We are very pleased with the conversion rate, which has been better than last year’s. The purchase value of customers, though, is lower. But we still have another weekend to go before Durga Puja, when we expect even higher footfall and sales. Going forward, we expect the momentum to continue till Diwali, with a slight lull during the third week when the festival is underway,” said Pandey.
Acropolis and Diamond Plaza have also registered a significant surge in footfall. The former recorded an 11% jump from the previous week, both in terms of footfall and revenue. “It is very encouraging to notice that people have overcome the fear of Covid and embraced the festivities. Unlike the street scenes in the shopping hubs, customers in malls have behaved responsibly and followed all Covid protocols, including wearing masks,” said Acropolis mall general manager K Vijayan.
Forum, the city’s first mall that is nearly two decades old, has seen a surge in footfall despite a non-operational food court. “Sales is close to 70% of last year, which is pretty decent considering what we have been through till now,” said Mall operations head Ujjal.