The parking lot is a key contributing factor for a shopper when s/he chooses to visit a shopping centre. The parking lot is the place which makes the first impression of a mall on a shopper’s mind, serving to give the shopper a sense of assurance that their vehicles are safe while they are inside and easily accessible in case of an emergency if well designed.
It is thus essential for a shopping mall to come up with a comfortable parking layout to provide their customers with a seamless experience. And while most malls have already mastered that, they are now using the area to host viable events and generate revenue for malls which have been hard hit in COVID times.
“Viviana Mall has two levels of basement parking with a capacity to park approximately 2,200 four wheelers and 1,200 two wheelers at any given point. To make entry and exit congestion free, there are multiple entry and exit ramps. Viviana Mall is known to provide with some best value-added services that includes helmet parking for customers with two-wheelers. Also, a dedicated parking space has been allotted for women,” says Gurvineet Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Viviana Mall.
In the past, Infiniti Mall has done various events at its parking spaces such as Funotsav, Christmas Carnival, Yum Yum Food Festival, Beer Festival to name a few.
Similarly, in the pre-COVID era, the bulk of the parking lot’s spaces at Growel’s 1O1 mall were being put to use majorly during the weekends and through the weekdays, they would become great activity-opportunities proving that the thought of turning parking spaces into revenue-generating elements has always been there, even before the pandemic hit.
“Pre-COVID, we used to host our annual women focused activity ‘ArtiStree’ in the open parking area to accommodate stalls put up by participants during the event and to host the grand finale activity. Pre-COVID we had also hosted exhibitions like the Kala Kumbh that showcases arts and crafts directly by artisans themselves,” states Sachin Dhanawade, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Retail & Real Estate, Grauer & Weil (India) Limited.
“Presently, with the pandemic situation and the social distancing norms in play, we have been using the open spaces in the mall, while following all safety measures as mandated, for pop-ups of brands available at our mall to benefit shoppers who are reluctant to enter closed areas for shopping. We had also hosted our monthly Funbola activity (tambola) in the open air parking area within the permissible limit of people while ensuring all safety and social distancing measures,” he further adds.
Profit from Parking Lots
The shutting down of shopping centres for over six months due to the pandemic has affected the revenue and business across the sector. Nonetheless, as the industry has resumed its operation since the early days of September 2020, it has been an important factor for shopping centre owners to work around their business models and redesign their strategies to drive footfalls.
“Malls have been looking at maximising revenue out of parking spaces to make up for the lost revenue due to the lockdown and also get more out of the limited footfall in the present scenario of the pandemic and the social distancing norms. On the other hand, customers are also looking for activities for leisure or entertainment, something that they too have been missing out on for months in the present pandemic situation. Permissible activities/ engagements in the parking spaces will provide malls additional revenue from the same customer in absence of any mega events that were previously done to attract footfalls,” Dhanawade states.
Growel’s 1O1 has been using parking spaces to conduct various promotional activities. These include automobile promotions for brands, for which the parking lot is ideal. Some of the upcoming plans include hosting automobile expos in parking space, among other promotions. It also plans to host an exclusive experience-oriented flea market in the area, where customers will also be able to enjoy additional elements like food and music
“We have a huge parking area which can be used to conduct events. “We give out the space in our parking area for promotional activities which helps in generating revenue. We have used the space in the past to conduct events which cannot be conducted inside the mall such as Pet Adoption Camp, Dog Fest, Marathon Run to name a few,” says Mukesh Kumar, CEO, Infiniti Mall.
Viviana Mall does not see parking lot as a revenue making entity, but as a supporting facility that would encourage people coming to the mall.
“For us, a parking lot is a facility area, and we provide with the best of its kind value added services such as, car and bike washing service and helmet parking facility for the visitors bringing in two wheelers. We have allotted a separate parking space, dedicated only for women. Moreover, the mall provides with a golf-cart as an add-on service for the physically impaired, senior citizens and expectant mothers, to drive them to the mall entry from their parking point at a distance, so as to make it convenient for our shoppers,” Singh shares.
“The primary goal of a shopping centre is sales and revenue from retail operations, and a parking lot should complement the main objective. It has been observed that levying higher parking fee at times discourages people to drive into a mall. Having said that, we are not averse from providing value added service in the parking lots, if it adds to overall experience at the mall,” Singh further adds.
Organising Events in the Parking Lot
Events organised in parking lots of shopping centres have received an encouraging response from consumers, which has helped malls increase engagement in out-of-store experiences as well.
“We are planning experience-oriented small-scale flea markets, exhibitions and expos in the parking area in the coming months,” says Dhanawade.
“We are planning to start a drive-in theatre and morning workouts soon at Infiniti Mall, Malad,” adds Kumar.
Transforming the Car Park
Parking lots will continue to be used for additional activities during the weekdays like auto expos and flea markets. “Perhaps, additional services with regards to auto services can also be considered like new car showcasing activities, or even services like car-wash,” says Dhanawade
“Parking lots can be considered as the best event venues where we can do concerts to carnivals,” concludes Kumar.