Monday, August 31, 2009

Metro work spells doom for business in mall

Metro work spells doom for business in mall

Project near Lido makes conditions unfavourable for shopping, commercial activities

Arunima Rajan. Bangalore



The fortunes of shops in Lido mall, one of the popular shopping destinations in the city, have nose-dived. Blame it on the metro work more than recession.
Ever since the metro work started in January, many shops have closed. The mall on Swami Vivekananda Road, which had many exclusive brands like Body Shop, 109 F, Lee Wise, Marks and Spencer and Accessorize under one roof, had 20 shops earlier; the latest count is only 14.
The construction work on the mass transit railway project has diminished the appeal of the locality. It is difficult to find parking space in the mall, the area is chock-a-block with traffic, and the road in front of the mall is covered with mud. The stretch has been converted into a one-way to facilitate the metro work.
The accumulation of debris on the stretch also causes dust storms. Shoppers, therefore, prefer to skip the mall. As a result, many stores are reporting a drop in sales. Some store owners claimed that sales were down by as much as 40%.
Shopkeepers said a lack of coordination between the different wings of BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited), the agency undertaking the construction, was responsible for the sorry state of affairs at the site.
The metro work had consumed almost 75% of the road space and the sluggish pace of construction had added to the traffic woes of many commuters and increased commuting time, the shopkeepers said.
The prevailing conditions acted as a deterrent for commercial activities in the area, they said.
"We were promised that the work would be completed soon," BV Nageshwara Sharma, operations executive of Body Shop, said. "But it is taking a lot of time," he said.
Recession had already hit sales. Now, the metro work had compounded the woes of the stores, he said. The construction was as much to be blamed as recession for the closure of many stores, he said.
"The road is in a pretty bad condition. There is no walking space for pedestrians. Our sales have dropped after the metro work started."
Farah Khan, manager of Accessorize, told DNA that there was a 30% drop in sales. "The regular customers are still coming to our shop. But many customers prefer going to our store in Garuda mall."
Many shopaholics who frequent the place said they were also frustrated by inconveniences caused by the metro construction.

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