Reopening of malls will reduce chances of conflict with retailers over rent: official
After standalone shops are allowed to reopen in the lockdown 3.0, shopping mall owners have sought permission from the government to resume operations, and this may reduce the possibility of a conflict between them and retailers over rent, officials said. All major retailers of shopping malls recently sought waivers and relaxation in rentals in the wake of losses because of the Covid-19 triggered lockdown.
"Retailers are in favour of enforcing the force majeure clause, to which mall owners objected and the matter may get dragged to court," a mall management executive told PTI, declining to be quoted. The 'force majeure' clause provides temporary reprieve to a party from performing its contractual obligations because of some event can be neither anticipated nor controlled.
"However, profits or losses of retailers cannot be farther associated with the enforced closure, if malls are allowed to reopen," the executive said. Malls have been closed across the country since lockdown was announced in late March.
At the national platform, Shopping Centre Association of India, an umbrella association of malls in the country, and realtors body Credai has sought government intervention to allow them to resume operation. "Both malls and retailers have lost business and it has to be shared. It will be sorted out through dialogue but first, the business has to resume," Credai Bengal president Sushil Mohta said.
Developers have written to the Prime Minister's Office, the Union home ministry and chief ministers seeking permission to reopen malls, at least in a limited way. "Under the Disaster Management Act, the Centre has to allow first before state government can consider," an official said.
"We are hopeful that the government will consider and support the retail industry that contributes to 10 per cent of the country's GDP," said Rahul Saraf, the owner of Forum mall in Kolkata. The Centre has allowed all standalone shops, essential and non-essential, to reopen, except those in containment zones from May 3. But they need to abide by safety protocols and social distancing norms.
"Precautions at malls can be undertaken, practised and monitored better than standalone stores. So, ideally, the government should consider reopening of malls," Mohta said. Chairman of Ambuja Neotia group Harsh Neotia also said that malls are safer places.
"We can control the safety and hygiene practises better. The government should allow malls to be reopened in a graded manner," Neotia said. However, an online survey recently found that footfall will be subdued in shopping malls immediately after they reopen.
Lakhs of blue-collar employees are associated with malls and prolonged closure will add to pay cut and job losses, all major stakeholders pointed out. A section of Kishore Biyani controlled Future Group employees belonging to Big Bazaar mall in Kolkata on Wednesday protested against alleged non-payment of wages March and April.
A Future Group spokesperson, however, said all employees were paid full salary for March. "There is a pay cut decision for three months from April for all employees and it had been communicated to them.
This measure has been taken to protect jobs of all," the spokesperson said..
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)