GUWAHATI, March 17 - With more and more people avoiding crowded places as a precaution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, sale and footfall at the city malls continue to see a downward slide.
Shopping malls in several parts of the city are already witnessing a decline in footfall up to 50 per cent, which is also leading to a decline in sales.
The government has already directed closure of educational institutions, cinema halls, parks, etc., in the State to prevent mass gathering of people.
�With spread of the coronavirus threat, we have been continuously witnessing a fall in sales and footfall. Only 347 people visited the mall till 2 pm today, which is half the normal footfall on regular days. We are witnessing 40 per cent decline in sales,� mall manager at the City Center Abhijeet Thakur told The Assam Tribune.
�The footfall will continue to see a downward trend for at least eight to 12 more weeks. However, we believe that consumers will flock back to the malls after the situation improves,� he added.
Similar is the scene at other malls of the city like Big Bazaar and Roodraksh Mall.
�We have been witnessing a decline in footfall here due to the COVID-19 threat. Sales have also been affected,� Joyjyoti Bora of Big Bazaar said.
Almost all the city malls have started providing hand sanitisers to the customers before the latters� entry into the facilities. Big Bazaar is also using thermal heat temperature guns to measure customers� body temperatures.
�Each crew member at our place has been designated with a specific task to keep all contact points inside the mall sanitised. Altogether, 60 members have been designated to look after the cleanliness part,� Abhijeet Thakur said.
�We are stepping up our efforts to maintain hygiene inside the malls. Staff members have been designated at the entry points and the parking lots to provide hand sanitisers. Twelve staffers have been designated to look after the cleanliness aspect,� technical manager of Roodraksh Mall Abhijit Sarkar said.
In many cities of the country, malls have already been mandated to close altogether.
�We have provided all the safety tools like hand sanitiser, gloves to our staff but we are not being able to provide sanitisers to customers due to unavailability in the market. We hope to get them in the next couple of days,� general manager of Central Mall Suryapratim Banerjee said.
�The closure of the multiplex has brought organised retail to a grinding halt. Even a short-term closure will have significant financial implications on the retailers,� he added.
There has been a 30 per cent fall in customers at eateries as well in the past seven days. Trade hub of the city, Fancy Bazar, also has witnessed 50 per cent decline in footfall.