3 weeks after reopening, shopkeepers in Delhi malls await customers

NEW DELHI: Even though it has been three weeks since the shopping malls across Delhi were allowed to reopen in the wake of the nationwide lockdown, prospective customers are yet to return to do shopping, with customer footfall as low as 25 percent of the normal.

Delhi malls were allowed to reopen from June 8 after following all health protocols.

Lalita Sharma, who runs a women's garments shop in an East Delhi mall, said that only very few customers were visiting the shopping complex. "We earlier had five sales persons, but now have only two. They too idle away their time," she rued.

She said that it was quite difficult to pay the rent of the premises in the present situation. Half of our earnings will now go into paying rent, Sharma added.

Rajesh Kashyap, who owns a shop selling digital cameras at a south Delhi mall, said: "A large number of Delhi residents have been affected by coronavirus, and hence many people are still not coming out to shop. We get the whole area sanitised daily before opening our shops. In the present circumstances, it is very difficult even to pay showroom rent. We have demanded a reduction in the rent amount, but in case that does not happen, we will have no option but to vacate the premises."

PC Jain, who owns a shop in a mall in west Delhi's Rajouri Garden, said that shop owners were coming merely to keep their premises open even as there were no customers. "People are still busy buying essential items only," he remarked.

Jain said: "As per a survey, restaurants in shopping malls have registered 70 percent decrease in their business, shops of clothes and readymade garments 69 per cent, and shops selling items of personal 75 per cent."

"In such conditions, the landlords are putting pressure for rent, whereas shopkeepers don't have money to even pay their employees," he added.

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