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Is India ready for open-air retail?

Over the years, we have seen ambitious plans like the JDH Urban Regeneration Project, which was meant to revive tourism and economic activity as well as restore the stepwells in Jodhpur. However, sources tell us that political interference and endless red tape stopped any further work from happening. Local body permissions are an oft-cited pain point for retailers, be it malls or such open-air spaces. Those in the know tell us about the realities of retail spaces.

Is India ready for open-air retail?

Rooshad Shroff, architect and interior designer

“I don’t want to be a party pooper, but while having more open-air spaces is a great Utopian idea, at the end of the day, everyone’s taken a real beating economically. And new projects require massive funding.”

Is India ready for open-air retail?

Ashiesh Shah, architect and interior designer

“[Cities like] Mumbai do not have the space or the climate for it. I feel open-air markets will be explored for sure, but they will be early morning or evening markets. I don’t see permanent spaces for them evolving; it will be more of a weekend event.”

Is India ready for open-air retail?

Vinita Chaitanya, interior designer

“Going horizontal with shopping areas — like large outlet malls in the USA — is a matter of real estate. Who has it and who is going to give that to you? In Bengaluru, going outside the city towards the airport is a huge cost because land prices have gone up. You have to find spaces where real estate is not super expensive, that you can go horizontally and design these kinds of shopping experiences.”

Is India ready for open-air retail?

Laila Tyabji, chairperson and founder-member, Dastkar

“The future of these open-air spaces [like Nature Bazaar Venue in Chattarpur, Delhi] often owned by the government, should be given out to organisations that will use them sensitively but also in a way that’s sustainable for the craftspeople.”

Is India ready for open-air retail?

Jaya Jaitly, founder, Dastkari Haat Samiti

“Many haats have opened across the country, following the success of Dilli Haat. But they are so badly run that they are either half-dead or misused. That is the problem when you have the government do it; they are rigid, with no imagination and have vested interests. Good NGOs, with established track records of at least 10 years, should be given these haats to run.”

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