Mall Owners May Offer Relief To Retail Stores, Food Outlets, Multiplexes Amid Pandemic: SCAI

A final decision in this regard would be taken after the end of this month after assessing the impact, as the restrictions imposed by the state government are changing every week

Industry body SCAI on Sunday said mall owners will stand by their tenants as they did in the last two waves and are likely to offer relief to retail stores, food outlets and multiplexes amid the fresh COVID pandemic wave.

Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) is an industry body, representing the owners of shopping malls and centres.

SCAI director Abhishek Bansal said some of the retailers have started approaching the property owners, raising their concerns over the impact on their business after the restrictions imposed by local authorities after a sudden surge in the pandemic cases.

“This is the third time it is happening, and developers and shopping centres have stood with their tenants and retailers in the last two waves. They will again stand with their partners in this third wave also, so that everyone tide over this situation,” Bansal told PTI.

Large retail stores, restaurants, pubs, cafes, multiplexes operating in malls and shopping centres are approaching property owners, seeking waiver and concession in the rentals for January.

However, Bansal, who is also Executive Director, Pacific Malls, said the owners would take some time to decide over the relief.

A final decision in this regard would be taken after the end of this month after assessing the impact, as the restrictions imposed by the state government are changing every week, he added.

Earlier, the restrictions were only on timing and weekend operations, but now they have completely closed in-dining.

Several cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, are facing strict restrictions imposed by the respective state governments in a move to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. For example in Delhi, multiplexes are closed, in-dining in restaurants are prohibited and only takeaways are allowed.

Rajneesh Mahajan, CEO of Inorbit malls, also confirmed that few restaurants have shared their concerns and said a reasonable discussion would be taken up to find a solution.

“If they have any trouble, we would be happy to talk to them as and when they need any support,” said Mahajan, who is also Director of SCAI.

While talking of the two earlier waves, he said in most cases they had waived the large component of the rental for the lockdown and when the operation was restored, rentals were increased in a phased manner.

“We are also concerned about the developments,” he said.

Retailers Association of India (RAI) said it is a stressful situation and the mall and shopping centre owners and the retailer should sit together to tide over it.

“The third wave of COVID has once again brought businesses into a stressed situation. Various parts of the country have various norms to tackle it. This means that retailers and malls would talk to each other and try to come out with new terms to tide over this new wave,” said RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan.

Last week, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) had written to the property owners of the food & beverage business, requesting a complete waiver of rentals and CAM (Common Area Maintenance) charges as the businesses are completely shut for dine-in.

In an open letter, NRAI had appealed for no minimum guaranteed rents for three months and opted for pure revenue share for the period when restricted operations are imposed.

Rahul Singh, founder and CEO of The Beer Cafe said right now there is no business as all the bars and restaurants in Delhi are closed.

“We have already gone through two waves, and they (owners) have been very supportive and expect it to be the same again,” he said.

Even in the recovery phase during the first and second wave also, we had not paid any rent for the closed period, and when we reopened, the owners supported us with a pure revenue share model, he added.

“By the last quarter, when we moved to pre-COVID numbers, everything was back,” Rahul noted.

Multiplex operators are again severely hit by the restrictions as several state governments have asked them to close the cinema halls, and they are also planning to approach the mall/property owner.

However, Multiplex Association of India (MAI) President Kamal Gianchandani has declined to comment on the issue.