• Malls are excited, markets not so much

    When TOI visited various marketplaces and malls on Thursday to gauge the reaction of establishments to the newly approved Model Shops and Establishments Bill permitting business through the night, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm among market associations in sharp contrast to the happiness of mall management.
    Atul Bhargava, president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association, said that restaurants and lounges could benefit because there were enough people who would dine late at night, but the same could not be assumed of high-street markets. “After midnight, Connaught Place is full of drug addicts, hawkers and beggars. Who is going to take responsibility of the security?” Bhargava asked.

    In a similar vein, Sanjeev Mehra, president, Khan Market Traders Association, added, “People would anyway prefer a mall after midnight to a stroll around the markets. So for us there is not much of a scope for additional business late at night.”

    Malls, however, have welcomed what they called the government’s “big step” towards development of retail and employment. Dinaz Madhukar, senior vice-president of DLF Promenade and DLF Emporio malls, said, “Delhi, being the capital, could see an increase in terms of mileage to retailers, employees and shoppers alike.” He expected vendors in malls with high entertainment quotients to be excited about the flexible work hours and increased footfall.

    As for safety concerns, especially of women, Madhukar explained that Mumbai had a reputation for being safer for women because it was a 24×7 city with people around at all times. In contrast, Delhi roads and markets became isolated after a certain time. “If malls and other establishments were to remain open 24×7, we would see more people out and about, making for a safer environment in Delhi as well,” he reasoned.

    An important fallout of longer business hours would be retailers levelling up with online shopping. “A factor for the popularity of online shopping is the convenience of shopping any time. With this bill, even brick & mortar can play the same game,” said Yog Raj Arora, director of Select Citywalk mall. “Retailers are paying rental for 24 hours, so it is in their interest to have longer hours of trading.” The mall, which currently pulls the shutters at 11 pm, could then extend the shopping hours to 12:30 am or even 2am in the first stage, Arora said.

    There are, of course, concerns even among youngsters about security. “In our country, it might be a bit difficult to implement such timings. Can the government ensure safety and security to everyone?” asked Aparajita Singh, a resident of Lajpat Nagar. Jatin, a Gurgaon entrepreneur, however, argued that it wasn’t compulsory for everyone to venture out at night for shopping or dining. “At least if we sometime decide to dine outside in the middle of the night, we will have options,” he said. His clinching argument: “It is also a way to ensure safety of people. If people are willing to hang out till late night, crime will gradually come down.” Marcedes Lewis Womens Jersey

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