India, November 4, 2020: The in-mall food & beverages, and restaurant businesses continue to face severe financial stress due to the 33% restrictions on seating capacity despite resuming business after months of lockdown.
In it’s endeavour to support these businesses recover, The Retailers Association of India (RAI) has written to all State Governments across the country to permit the utilisation of open spaces in malls as additional well-spaced dining areas for operating restaurants and food courts.
Speaking about the representations, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India, said, “We appreciate the steps taken by the State Governments for providing timely relaxations to various industries to restart and revive the economic activities, which were halted due to the lockdown. In a set of recommendations for restarting the economy post-lockdown, the Retailers Association of India has proposed state governments to allow malls to use open spaces within their premises as food courts and open-dining areas for restaurants. This will ensure that customers can eat out in a safe manner ensuring proper social distancing. It will also ensure that business happens.”
The representation submitted to the various State Governments highlights the following merits to both businesses and consumers:
1. Open spaces will provide a safe space for people to congregate. Social distancing is easier to maintain in the mall’s spacious and well-ventilated outdoor areas.
2. With the on-going festive season, the number of customers visiting the mall has gone up. The additional tables in the open areas will help cater to their needs, saving them inconvenience.
3. Open spaces will help the malls and restaurants accommodate additional customers and bring business back without violating social distancing requirements.
4. The business generated through open spaces will help save jobs of locals employed in the malls as well as the staff members of the various restaurants in them.
Many countries have already adopted the policy of converting open areas and public spaces into additional outdoor dining spaces. Implementing the same in our country will aid a smoother revival of the economy.
Expressing his views on the topic, Rajneesh Mahajan – CEO, Inorbit Malls, said, “Today, consumers want to step out into safe environments and restaurants have adopted all advised SOPs to ensure safety. Given an opportunity to use open and common spaces around restaurants and in malls, we will be able to serve more guests, maintain social distancing and create spaces for consumers to enjoy outdoor dining helping better recovery of business.”
“We would like to thank the Government for taking proactive measures to keep citizens safe as well as businesses running during these challenging times. Having said that, allowing malls to convert suitable areas that they have into open air dining areas will help in easing the pressure on restaurants at our premises especially during the festive season. This will aid in supporting the revival of the F&B industry while also ensuring social distancing norms are adhered to. Food is an integral part of the overall mall experience and helps customers rejuvenate when they are out shopping. Optimizing open air areas adjoining the malls will help accommodate additional customers and bring back life to the restaurants and food courts, without violating social distancing requirements.” Added Rashmi Sen, Chief Operating Officer, The Phoenix Mills Ltd.
Highlighting the win-win nature of the proposition, Sachin Dhanawade - Chief Operating Officer (COO) Retail & Real Estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Limited, which operates Growel’s 1O1 Mall in Mumbai, said, “There is an urgent need to find alternative ways to optimise business within the present set of restrictions. Permitting open spaces within malls to operate as open-dining areas will support both social distancing and faster recovery of business. Utilisation of open spaces will also provide malls additional revenue in absence of any mega events that were previously done to attract footfalls. Customers are also looking for activities for leisure or entertainment, something that they have been missing out on for months due to the present situation."
The Indian economy is pacing on a bumpy road to recovery. Despite economic activities picking momentum, recovery will not be possible unless we look for unconventional solutions and get government support. At this juncture, all efforts are required to boost the local economy to help the survival of the retail and restaurant sectors, thus saving millions of jobs.
Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. It is a strong advocate for retailing in India and works with all levels of government and stakeholders with the aim to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail, to promote and sustain retail investments in communities from coast-to-coast, and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness. Visit http://www.rai.net.in