Indian malls neither destination shopping nor hangout zones

Track2Realty Survey

Majority of the Indian malls either fail to attract the shopaholics or the fun lovers. In a pan-India survey Track2Realty finds that Indians still prefer physical retail over online shopping, if only the malls attract them for both fine shopping experiences as well as hangout avenues.

Contrary to the emerging belief in the urban India, majority of Indians would prefer a mall experience over online shopping. Their only grouse is that most of the malls are either not attracting them for shopping options or for the fun & hangout with friends & family. Worse even, beyond a few visits the Indians don’t feel like going to the same mall again.

As many as 68% Indians would prefer to go to a mall than just shop with the click of a mouse. Even more in number, 82% would prefer costly shopping at the physical stores and online shopping is only good for grocery & other inexpensive items.

The Indians nevertheless are not finding most of the malls a tempting proposition to visit. 54% feel shopping experiences in the malls are not up to their expectations. 62% feel malls are not attractive places to spend time with friends & family as hang out zones. What is even worse news for the retail operators in the country is the fact that a substantial number of Indians, 72% to be precise, don’t feel like visiting the same mall on a repeat basis.

These are the findings of a pan-India survey by Track2Realty. The survey was aimed at assessing the track record of the Indian malls in terms of meeting the customer experiences and rating & ranking the best malls in the country. The survey was carried in 20 cities – Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bhopal, Raipur, Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kochi and Coimbatore. 

A structured set of questions that was based on qualitative assessment of the mall visitors’ psychograph was given to the respondents. They were mostly SEC B+ and A assesses with fair amount of disposable income. The survey tried to capture the minds of the Indians who frequently visit the malls and have fair amount of understanding and expectations.   

It is not high-end brands or the costliest of fun zones that the Indians are looking for. As a matter of fact, 80% of the Indians prefer affordable but quality brands and entertainment options. Even more in number, 84% to be precise, want the fine marriage of brand mix and entertainment in the same mall to make it their weekend destination.

More than seven out of ten, as many as 74% suggest the malls must think beyond shopping stores to elevate the overall experience with experimental themes with entertainment and food & beverages. 68% crib that the Indian malls are not children & elderly friendly. 

Survey Highlights

68% prefer mall over online shopping

54% find mall experience less than satisfactory

Malls are not ideal hangout zones for 62% Indians

80% look for affordable & quality options in malls while 20% prefer upscale options

For weekend hangout 84% look for brand mix & entertainment combo

72% don’t find new experience in malls

74% wish for experimental themes in malls

68% miss children & elderly friendly ambience, 20% miss dedicated couple zones & 12% find overall ambience less than desirable

Kochi residents find best mall satisfaction (74%), flowed by Chennai (68%) and Bengaluru (62%)

Ahmedabad voted for worst mall experience (32%), followed by Ghaziabad (38%) and Hyderabad (40%)

Lucknow, Bhopal and Raipur are most malls aspirational cities

80% malls can’t survive on shopping alone

64% visit malls for hangout & entertainment, 20% business meetings & only 16% for shopping

42% Indians feel malls lack of personal touch, 38% blame long queues at hyper stores & 20% turn off with poor brand mix

50% Indians spend money at malls for grocery & home décor, 28% for apparels and 22 for consumer durables

Safety & security, parking, brand mix voted as footfall enhancer in malls

In terms of satisfaction index of shoppers, South Indian cities are far ahead with Kochi leading the pack with 74% satisfied shoppers, followed by Chennai with 68% satisfied shoppers and Bengaluru with 62% shoppers. The worst three places in terms of poor shopping experience are Ahmedabad with 32% satisfaction index, followed by Ghaziabad with 38% satisfaction index and Hyderabad with 40% satisfaction index. Three most aspirational cities in terms of shoppers’ wish list are Lucknow, Bhopal and Raipur.     

The survey finds that malls can’t survive on the shopping business alone, a fact accepted by no less than 80% Indians. As a matter of fact, it has been interesting to note that no less than 64% Indians primarily go to malls for hang out with family where entertainment and food & dining is the top priority.

Why are these otherwise community centers not giving the kind of shopping experiences that would act as the magnet? Lack of personal touch, like the local retailer, was pointed out by 42% Indians as their prime concern. 38% blamed long queues at hyper stores as their main turn off reason. 20% of the respondents feel poor brand mix are proving to be detrimental for the malls.

What are the majority of Indians buying at these malls? 50% go there to buy grocery & home decor, while apparels invite 28% shoppers and consumer durables are preferred to be bought in malls by 22% of these mall visitors. 

What is leading to more footfalls in certain top malls across the country while the rest are just wondering as to why their beautiful décor and interiors fail to attract the shoppers? The three things that majority of Indians feel differentiate between the men and the boys in retail complexes is safety & security, parking and brand mix.

The survey is clearly an eye opening for the retail developers and mall managers of India. They can no longer escape with the excuse that it is the online shopping that is affecting the footfall and the business volume. On the contrary, it is time they learn from their mistakes of traditional format; something that could lead to more quality competition in the segment. The Indians across the country are ready to embrace the mall culture for both the shopping experiences as well as entertainment options. 


The survey demography belonged to a mix mostly upper middle class and upscale Indians who have reasonable level of disposable income. The respondents were mostly educated ones and some of them were even exposed to the best of global malls. 74% of these Indians were double income families for whom malls are destination points for mid-week meetings and weekend hangouts. 

A large sample size of 5,000 respondents (250 samples in each city) was targeted. Out of these only 3942 samples were finally zeroed down and considered for analysis. Rest 1058 respondents were not considered for evaluation since they either gave incomplete answers, contradicted their responses or were rejected for non-seriousness of their choices & concerns. The total sample size had 58% males and 42% females as a representative set.

The surveying method was one-on-one interviews, in which the researchers explained the theme and purpose of the survey. It was more of a qualitative assessment of the psychograph of mall visitors.  The results were based on a set of 25 open-ended & close-ended questions and the answers were grouped into five key factors of acceptance & rejection of malls, reasons of mall visits, spending pattern, major pain points in malls and wish list to elevate mall experiences.

Next: Top 10 Indian malls

Track2Realty is an independent media group managed by a consortium of journalists. Starting as the first e-newspaper in the Indian real estate sector in 2011, the group has today evolved as a think-tank on the sector with specialized research reports and rating & ranking. We are editorially independent and free from commercial bias and/or influenced by investors or shareholders. Our editorial team has no clash of interest in practicing high quality journalism that is free, frank & fearless.

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