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Malling in the time of slump.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
"Happiness can be now bought – on purchases of Rs 10,000." This announcement on a giant hoarding outside Saket's Select Citywalk mall may not cheer Delhi shoppers much. "I don't have spare cash for hardcore shopping," says Mr Amit Chandan, 24, a software engineer who was 'malling' one Monday with his girlfriend. "People in my office are being fired – who knows what may happen to me?"
It was a very different world when this mall was thrown open to Delhiites on October, 2007. Built over more than one lakh square feet, bang opposite the not-so-scenic Khirki Village, Citywalk's gleaming building came up at a time when there were too many things to buy, too much money to spend. The economy was booming. Foreign brands were coming in. Job-hopping was the norm. There were no pink slips.
Not any longer.
The present mood at the mall reflects the feel of the moment. "Global recession has affected us all. Shopping has gone down," says Citywalk CEO Mr Rajiv Duggal.
It seems even the 'hanging out' crowd now stays away from the shop windows. "On Sundays, the mall floors used to be as crowded as railway platforms," says a shop assistant in a designer store. Clients' priorities have changed, too. "Earlier, my rich clients asked me not to bother them about seasonal sales," she adds, "But now they call and ask, 'Sweetie, any sale on?'"
On Monday, at 2.07 pm, sale signs call out to buyers from almost every store window, but few shops have customers. "Regulars are buying less," confesses Mr Ravi Singh, shop assistant at L'Occitane En Provence. This store, too, is empty.
But there is life in the malls yet. On Valentine's Day, the City Walk parking was full by late afternoon. On Christmas, 75,000 mallrats flocked there to see Delhi's largest X-mas tree. And The Delhi Walla met three Gargi college girls who spent Rs 1,500 on a KFC meal. "Recession hasn't affected us," Ms Ridhima Chopra said. "Mummy papa ka paisa hai."
Too bad that Mr Sumantha Roy, an IT professional from Lajpat Nagar, who goes to the mall every week can't call dad when he wants something. "When I saw something nice, I'd buy it. But now, I'd think twice," he says. Maybe some clever discount help him buy that elusive happiness.
Where are the shoppers?
Where are the Shoppers?
Here they are! (Gargi College students)
Bottom, and top, too
Happiness on sale
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