Malls swing into action

Sravanthi Challapalli Chennai | Updated on March 05, 2011

Attempting to stave off the drop in the number of visitors in the typically lean season of February and March, a few malls around the country have taken to beaming World Cup matches on a large LED screen. Chennai's Ampa Skywalk is one of them – these malls have tied up with Hyundai Motor India Ltd, the official car sponsor of the cricket World Cup, which in turn has bought rights from ESPN to screen the matches live in the mall. Inorbit Malad in Mumbai and Great India Place in New Delhi are the other two malls.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Ampa Palaniappan, Managing Director, Ampa Housing Development, said this period usually sees a big drop in footfalls as students stay at home preparing for exams and families to watch cricket. Ampa has successfully contained the drop, with 12,000-15,000 people visiting on weekdays and double that on weekends (as against an average of 18,000 on weekdays and 40,000 on weekends in the regular period), Mr Palaniappan said. Hyundai, besides exhibiting its cars, also has some other activities such as games and a caricature artist in its stall. In Chennai, the big prizes for winners in the games/contests it conducts includes tickets to the World Cup matches held at M. A. Chidambaram stadium.

The package at Ampa Mall even includes performances by cheerleaders from Germany. Mr Palaniappan said towards the quarter- and semi-finals, the mall would hold events that link shopping and the food business to cricket and cricket merchandise.

Cricket has come in handy for the malls to sustain the crowds – usually, the malls hold festival-based events to sustain the crowd, such as Valentine's Day or Women's Day but the World Cup is more long-term and sustaining than a single event.

And husbands who are forced to accompany their wives are happy as they can follow the match while their wives shop, says Mr Vipin Venugopal, Senior Manager – Marketing.

Need to innovate

Malls are coming up with various ways and means to keep the visitors coming. Express Avenue, also situated in Chennai, is hosting the final knockout stages of the World Squash Federation’s World Cup 2011 later this month. While Ampa hopes to find a sponsor to host a similar activity at the Skywalk around the IPL which starts next month, it will also look for ways to identify itself as the neighbourhood mall for people visiting from localities close to the mall.

Neighbourhood malls future

It has already kicked this off by inviting customers to participate in various locality-specific activities and is looking at a monthly newsletter-cum-discount booklet that can be sent out to them. This is also the strategy to deal with competition from newer malls, Mr Palaniappan said. As life and traffic get busier, the future lies in neighbourhood malls, he said, adding, however, that the Chennai market could as of now absorb more malls.

Published on March 04, 2011

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