Mall-Fever and Consumerism

Posted on January 17, 2010 in Business and Economy

Moumita Pramanik:

India is in the phase of metamorphosis from mundane shopping activities to making shopping a pleasurable and luxurious experience. Mall culture is a new phenomena and revolution in the Indian market scenario. It has grown at an incredible pace all across India, especially in the metropolitan cities.

Growing westernization and emergence of multi-nationals have brought the effect of consumerism. The earlier uncomfortable shopping process, under the scorching summer sun and sultry weather has now been put at ease. The few words that come to our mind when we hear the word “mall” are shopping, food, movies, entertainment and of course hanging out on a holiday – all under the same roof. People find a mall as the best place to visit and shop, and get free-entry to the air-conditioner interior during the summer heat; not to forget the different and delicious cuisines available in these multiplexes for all food enthusiasts.

Sales, schemes and attractive prizes are the sure success formulae to hook the consumers to visit the malls. Malls, in the beginning were a craze among youngsters but now they attract all age groups. These malls have changed the concept of shopping totally. Comfort, style, coolness, convenience are the some of the few advantages of malls.

Our sparkling new malls symbolize India’s growth from a stagnant third world country to an intruding superb economy. A decade ago there were no malls and now in 2010, an additional 31,846,504-square feet of mall space available across India through just over 100 new shopping centers. Of the over 30-million sq ft of malls to be added by the end of 2010, India’s north zone is leading with a total of 14,790,000 sq ft. By the first quarter of 2011, there is an expected increase in the number of malls by 350.

Droves of consumers are so hooked up with the concept of multiplexes that they hardly complain about the price hikes. In malls, people end up buying unnecessary things, at over rated prices to compensate for the mall’s infrastructure. As the multi-national companies offer a fair pay package to these young techies; they become the loyal consumers, spending big bucks in these malls. By the way people are magnetized to these malls, the owners are hardly complaining. In fact, they come up with the new shops in other malls.

But the introduction of new malls hasn’t replaced the topography of traditional shopping. The pocket conscious people still visit the neighborhood “kirana” store rather than visiting the malls. For the big buyers, such as for weddings, consumers prefer the traditional markets over malls because of quality and better prices. The mall owners and retailers wish the visitors (mainly visit for window shopping or for handouts) turn into their customers.

Power being a perpetual problem in India, these malls consume high amount of electricity, putting aside the rural areas in dark. In this generation, shopping means much more than a mere necessity and retailers and malls owners take this into account. Hundreds of malls proliferate annually, digging huge wells to suck up groundwater resulting in disturbance in the equilibrium of our environment. A teeming number of farmers were stranded as their main source of bread and butter (land) was taken away for the development of special economic zones. And the method is still in progression.

The big question that throbs my mind is do we need so many malls? What are we teaching your younger generation? Squander all your money on these brands and keep spending money without worrying for the future.

Malls are here to stay and are essential but when will this mall- fever go and when will people realize the reality of primary needs?

The writer is a Kolkatta based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz.