In Markets

Empty malls echo India’s sorry retail story

The once-buzzing Atria Mall, a premium shopping destination in South Mumbai, barely has visitors – despite it being a relaxed Sunday evening. While the escalators run up and down, store assistants wait for customers to show up. Perhaps they know it is a futile wait. A third of the shops at the mall have already shut down, and the echoing expanse has a sombre mood, like that of a dying institution. Over the past year, the owners have put the mall on the block and then taken it off several times.

In other parts of Mumbai too, malls are in similar decline. In Navi Mumbai, in the east, the Gold Souk, which was meant to be a glittering ode to India’s insatiable demand for gold, silver and diamond jewellery, and the Wedding Mall, designed to be a one-stop shop for all wedding-related needs, have been converted into commercial offices. Another mall nearby, the Palm Beach Galleria, is also being refashioned into a residential complex with car and jewellery showrooms.

In the National Capital Region, things are no better. At least four malls in Rohini, Vasant Kunj, Pitampura and Gurgaon are lying vacant and looking for buyers, say property consultants. In others, the footfall has decreased, forcing developers to tweak their business plans. Prozone, a joint venture of apparel retailer Provogue and Capital Shopping Centres, which was looking to build six malls in the country, has scaled down its plans to three malls.

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