Malls brace for bigger housekeeping expenses

They are shopping for hygiene products ahead of the June 8 reopening
Last Updated : 30 June 2020, 15:19 IST

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Phoenix Marketcity in Whitefield has a host of new safety arrangements, from UV sanitisation for shopping bags to contactless parking.
Phoenix Marketcity in Whitefield has a host of new safety arrangements, from UV sanitisation for shopping bags to contactless parking.

Unlock 1.0, which allows the resumption of business across many sectors, means additional hygiene and sanitation costs.

Malls, set to open up on June 8, will allow only a third of the previous capacity. Hotels and restaurants are also modifying their seating and sanitation practices.

“There are four aspects we’ve had to modify — men, machinery, material and method,” says Muhammad Ali, chief operating officer, Forum Malls.

The housekeeping department will be bigger, bathrooms will get sensor-operated taps, and entrances will have sanitisation tunnels.

“It’s difficult to assign a cost as there are one-time costs and operational costs. I’d estimate a 10 per cent addition to earlier costs,” he says.

Gajendra Singh Rathore, senior centre director of Phoenix Marketcity Bangalore and Chennai and Palladium Chennai, says the group is spending about Rs 50 lakh per mall to gear up for the reopening.

“The products are sent from the central offices to different malls. We have a nationwide SOP (standard operating procedure) to follow and this uniformity makes it easier,” he says.

Muhammad adds that purchasing items in bulk also reduces costs.

No paper menus

Food courts and standalone restaurants at the malls are getting rid of paper menus.

While Forum has an in-house ‘order from the table’ app, Zomato and Dineout are reaching out to restaurants to initiate contactless dining.

Phoenix has turned parking contactless as well, with the use of digital wallets to collect parking fees.

So what are the costs?
Thermal cameras: Ametek, a manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices, sells thermal cameras at Rs 2.75 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh. These devices are used to screen visitors for fever.
Taps: A sensor-based tap can cost anywhere between Rs 2,000 to Rs 15,000. A host of companies make these taps.
Tunnels: Disinfectant tunnels start at Rs 30,000 and go up to Rs 1 lakh a unit.
Sanitiser: The price is capped at 50 paise per ml by the government.
An individual requires 3-5 ml of sanitiser per use and an hour in a public place calls for hand sanitisation three times, says Angad Ahluwalia, senior manager, corporate communication, Bioplus Healthcare, a company making sanitisers.
At the moment, no one has an estimate of footfalls, he says. A large capital cost is involved in making public places safer in the wake of the pandemic.
“The good thing is that these products are not Covid-19 specific, they ensure good hygiene practices long after the pandemic is gone,” says Angad.

Published 02 June 2020, 14:44 IST

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