Festive season is when people are on a high when it comes to shopping and malls are their go-to places. How different has this year's season been from the years before COVID?
As we embrace the new normal, this festive season has been different from every other year in the pre-COVID era. Even though we opened in August, keeping in mind all the social distancing norms and sanitation protocols for starting again, things have been different. While we still did our usual celebrations at the mall with events for kids and festive décor at the entrance to mark the season, it still did feel different. We need to understand that it will be a long time until full normalcy resumes, and people enter malls without the mental block in their heads about trusting hygiene protocols at various locations. As a brand, we are doing the best in our capabilities to ensure that social distancing and hygiene is maintained as per standards.
What is your strategy to lure customers back to the joy of shopping in person when suddenly ecommerce has now become the new way of shopping everyone is taking route to?
It all depends on the people. We can only keep them informed and assured via our actions and hygiene protocols, but it is up to the consumer as well. Our strategy, given the current situation and circumstances is to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure safety regulations are met and religiously followed. We have seen people come in to the all to experience the new normal as well and that has been good to witness because they can them experience the mall shopping experience with the social distancing norms in action. Of course, there has been a change in the way shopping happens this year, with the country going into lockdown and e-commerce reaching an all time high. But I will say this that people know the joy of in person shopping cannot be compared to online shopping and once normalcy prevails, things will get better. In-person shopping and ecommerce have co-existed in the past and it is only a matter of time when that happens again.
How has the reopening of the malls been for you in terms of customers and what are the sanitation protocols at the properties undertaken to ensure shopping is still enjoyable to people without any worry of being infected?
As a brand, we can incorporate quality hygiene and sanitation facilities in our malls and that has been our prime priority when the SOP for mall reopening was issued. We had detailed and long discussions at the management level about the way things would be once malls re-opened. Right from things like temperature check, staff wearing masks and having sanitizers at common points to social distancing, sanitation, cleaning of common points etc it is all part of the process. It felt different, but this is how it is going to be for a very long time until we have a vaccine.
What are the changes a shopper will encounter now as opposed to their regular shopping routine; window shopping, spending hours walking around aimlessly in the mall, food court get-togethers?
Malls have been of the most sought-after hangout spots for friends, families etc. Of course, things have changed given the pandemic and people are scared to now do things they would otherwise do without batting an eyelid. Like going to restaurants for dinner or window shopping or walking around in malls aimlessly just having a good time. And now, people usually meet for drives or walks, but are scared to enter confined properties like malls etc. For a shopper, first and foremost, when it comes to buying items, of course for clothes there are currently no trial policies implemented for their own good, secondly, no returns or exchanges. These small changes in the process, is for until we know that it is safe to go back to our old ways.
What according to you are new shopping trends currently coming in, in the wake of the new normal?
There has been a huge surge in the ecommerce sector and rightfully so. What you could once buy in person, has now become an online fad. But, I think even a consumer knows that nothing beats the joy of in-person shopping. As for new trends, I think the trends are mostly the new ways of shopping that have come in, contact-less, online etc.
As one of the most sought-after malls in the city, how are you working towards ensuring you stay on top of everyone's mall going experience?
We are grateful to all the people who consider Infiniti Mall their favourite. And I would also like to mention the amazing teams we have that work hard on ensuring a satisfactory customer experience that always has them return for more. Having said that, it is our hope and endeavour that we keep doing what we do best and that will drive footfalls to our malls always.
Your mall properties always have Christmas activities and carnivals for kids and their parents to enjoy. How are you altering those plans this year?
We have events for both Diwali and Christmas, each year. We did have our events for Diwali and those were a success and our hope is the same for Christmas as well. A lot of thought has gone into planning these events keeping in mind social distancing norms, and we have ensured that is our top priority. We have a Christmas Bonanza planned this year as well and I think it will be a good way for kids and their parents to see that even though so much has changed, some things don’t change and festive season means joy.