Mumbai malls open 24*7: Lukewarm response to trial run, not many walk-in customers

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At High Street Phoenix in Lower Parel. (Express photo)

A “trial run” held at some malls ahead of the introduction of the ‘Mumbai 24 hours’ initiative from January 27, received a lukewarm response on Saturday.

Some malls, including Atria in Worli, High Street Phoenix in Lower Parel, Phoenix Market City in Kurla and Growel’s in Kandivali, remained open till 3 am, with a few of its establishments participating in the trial run. Most said while they received orders from third-party food applications, there were not many walk-in customers.

On Wednesday, the state Cabinet had approved a proposal to allow malls and eateries to remain open in Mumbai 24x7 from January 27 as a pilot project.

At Growel’s, while apparel brands shut shop at 12 am, extending its hours for over two hours, eateries saw customers after two film shows ended at the multiplex on its premises.

“We were pleasantly surprised to see some of the eateries open. It is a good initiative for people to go on a late night outing on weekends,” said Dimple Patwa, who along with her two children went to a dessert place at the mall.

At Kurla, Ghatkopar resident Shyam Nagpaul, came to Phoenix Market City but found several shops shut. “The schemes will only be a success if all stores remain open,” he said.

Some establishments said that with many unaware of the extended hours, the 24x7 initiative needs to be promoted among the people. “In an hour after midnight, 10 customers came to the store. If the initiative is promoted well and people start visiting malls at night, we may keep the store open 24x7,” said Arbaaz Pawaskar from the ONLY apparel franchise at the mall.

Many restaurants were also apprehensive since the pilot project does not allow alcohol to be served beyond 1.30 am. “Unless liquor is served, the idea may not be successful as we do not expect people to come late at night for shopping or food. But the new law will be helpful to us in many ways. Currently, people order a lot of drinks before closing hours but have to leave before 1.30 am,” said Gaurav Choksi, a partner in a south Mumbai bar.

Mall authorities, meanwhile, experimented with a third shift of staffers, including security personnel. However, malls saw lesser number of women staffers than during regular hours as well on Saturday. “It all depends on whether the extra cost to the overheads is cost effective. Multinational brands, fast food joints and coffee shops may be able to handle the extra cost. For smaller shops, weekends may be the only time to expect any crowd,” said the owner of a local eatery at Growels.

Now, with many establishments still planning to work their way around the extra requirement of stock, staff and the resulting costs, some said they will wait and watch in the coming weeks to see if the initiative is profitable for them. Many establishments said that while they expect footfalls to remain low on weekdays, the crowd on weekends will determine whether it would be profitable to keep their shops open through the night.