At the onset of the festive season, the Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) on Wednesday has urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to remove the cap on operational timings that are curtailing business operations.
“Across the country, time restrictions have been lifted and we feel this needs to be done in Maharashtra as well. Shopping centres in the MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan Region) lost out on one full month due to local restrictions imposed by municipal corporations,” SCAI Chairman Amitabh Taneja said in a letter to the chief minister.
He added that now, cinemas are also opening up but it will be a month or two before necessary programming is made available to bring back the movie lovers.
“The other big chunk of the revenue generator continues to be from restaurants, bars and food-courts. The 7 pm deadline is detrimental for the industry. Relaxations at this time will only bring back some hope for malls to redeem lost revenues,” he said.
The Maharashtra government and the local authorities should step forward and help the shopping centres industry by resuming normal hours of operation, he said.
Taneja also said the fact that restaurants can operate for longer hours compared to shopping centres present an inequitable scenario for the retail industry.
The Maharashtra government had issued guidelines on July 29, under which malls were allowed to operate in the state from August 5, with a cap on operational timings from 9 am to 7 pm.
“We are fully cognisant of your apprehension, while the order was notified and respect the decision taken in the best interest of citizens of Maharashtra,” SCAI said in the letter.
Dalip Sehgal, CEO, Nexus Malls said, “While we welcome the decision of the Maharashtra government to re-open dine-in and cinema’s across the state, we would also urge them to allow shopping centres to go back to regular operational hours until 10 pm.”
He added that ever since shopping centres have been allowed to re-open across the country, they have strictly adhered to all the safety measures as prescribed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and SCAI to provide a hygienic shopping experience
With restaurants allowed to re-open and the opening of cinema’s round the corner, SCAI feels that the permission for shopping centres to remain open until late would only help deliver the holistic experience that has strived to provide over years, he added.