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Setback to Ahmedabad's urban model? City malls witness 48% decline in footfalls, one of the highest in India

One of the Ahmedabad malls
which closed down
By Our Representative
Are Ahmedabad’s malls, tom-tommed as an “example” of the city’s urban model, set to further lose their charm? It would seem so, if one goes by top industries body Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) report, which says that Ahmedabad’s malls has seen one of the highest declines in “footfalls” in India, next only to Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). As per an ASSOCHAM survey, Delhi-NCR recorded the highest decline in footfalls at city malls (49.5%) , followed very closely by Ahmedabad (48.2%).
Other cities that have seen a high fall in “footfall” are Chennai (46%), Mumbai (42%) and Hyderabad (39%), the survey results, released by ASSOCHAM, said. While roughly 250-300 malls came up in the country in the last two years, 80-85% of the spaces in these malls still lie vacant. In Ahmedabad, the situation has particularly taken from bad to worse, as few of the top malls recently closed their shops or reduced their capacity drastically. Several of them were built by offering them huge concessions, and without even necessary environmental clearances.
ASSOCHAM does not think that this is due to recession having overtaken the cities, but because “online shopping has proved especially harsh for shopping malls.” The survey was conducted in 10 cities-Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Dehradun. ASSOCHAM thinks, “Online shopping industry in India is fast catching on, not just in the larger metros but also in the smaller cities.”
The industry body estimates, things will only worsen for the malls this Diwali, when online shopping may increase by 350% as against the jump of 200% in August-September. The result is that, it says, “shopping malls have started feeling jittery as the footfalls in malls are likely to go down by 50-55%”. ASSOCHAM, however, does not provide inter-city comparison of how much has online actually caught up.
“During Diwali, Online shopping estimated to cross Rs 10,000 crore”, says ASSOCHAM, adding, “The online retailing to see the biggest flip ever in the history, going forward this trend will not only continue but it will grow by leaps and bounds. “At present the market is estimated at Rs. 12,000 crore and could cross Rs. 1,00,000 crore a year in India over the next three to four years”.
The survey, titled “Indian Online Retail Sales Surge in Festive Season”, reveals that there is more than a fivefold increase in revenue generated through e-commerce as compared to last year with all branded apparel, accessories, jewellery, gifts, footwear are available at a cheaper rates and delivered at the doorstep within two to three days. According to ASSOCHAM secretary-general DS Rawat, “Whole new audience is connected 24x7 through their smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices which are leading to a gradual evolution of e-commerce”. 
ASSOCHAM said, e-commerce sales in August and September grew by 200% from the same months in 2013 (120%), with mobile sales booming 100%. “Consumers are turning to the internet savvy because of the fast and simple payment and delivery service. Online shopping is estimated to be up by 350% during the festive season than visiting bricks and mortar stores, adds its report”, it insisted, adding, “This festive season, shopping on ground has taken a back seat. Apart from convenience, rising fuel price, security reasons, online discounts and availability with abundance of choices are keeping consumers indoors”.

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