Shopping malls in Maharashtra continue to be under lockdown as the government takes a cautious approach to reopen the economy given the threat of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that looms large. The closure, however, is impacting jobs and livelihood of dependents, Retailers Association of India (RAI) said on July 28.
According to the association, the prolonged closures have impacted the estimated 50 malls in Maharashtra that employ more than 2 lakh people, generate a business of about Rs 40,000 crore and contribute Rs 4,000 crore in GST per month. It has also afflicted all the businesses associated with malls—on an average, a mall has 200 retail stores operating in it and over 5,000 business entities associated with it as suppliers and vendors, said RAI.
The shopping malls in Maharashtra are closed since April as the government in several parts of the country introduced curbs to battle the second wave. The Maharashtra government allowed the opening of retail stores, restaurants in high streets and other locations only on weekdays, till 4 PM. General trade stores have been given further relaxations and are allowed to open for a limited window even on weekends.
RAI urged the government to allow malls and shopping centres in the state to operate with the necessary safeguards in place, to save employment, the economy, and the citizens’ right to safe shopping.
“It is important that the Maharashtra government considers reopening of formal retail spaces such as malls and shopping centres at the earliest as they are centres of significant economic activity,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.
“In addition to contributing to the exchequer in the form of taxes, they support several livelihoods, including those of vendors, retailers and employees,” he added.
Citing examples of the Delhi and Haryana governments which have opened malls, Rajagopalan requested the Government of Maharashtra to do the same.“This will not only help save jobs and businesses but will also pave the way for citizens to shop in a safe and sanitised environment,” he said.