High Streets – Shopping the Indian Way

October 24, 2011 / By

It is now the festive season in India and, like most Indians, I am on a shopping spree. When it comes to shopping, I like both high streets and malls, depending on the product I want to buy. But does all of India think the same way? Has the arrival of swanky malls dimmed the lights of high streets in India? The answer is “no” – from both customers and retailers.

India has traditionally been known for its bazaars and fairs, and every Indian city or town has its own well-established shopping high streets in prime locations near prime residential catchment areas and public nodes such as railway stations and central business districts that still enjoy high footfalls even today. However, high streets have witnessed a sea change over the past decade as international, national and local brands have slowly replaced most of the traditional stores. The location and catchment advantage that high streets enjoy continues to be the prime driver of demand among retailers, with the country’s leading retailers, such as the Future Group, Reliance Retail and Trent Ltd, expanding aggressively in the high streets of towns and cities across India.

These and other retailers have changed the face of most Indian high streets. The cluttered and disorganised high streets have been replaced by new or refurbished retail spaces with modern facilities, such as valet parking or parking bays. In addition to the advantages noted above, high streets tend to offer low rents compared to malls (although not always – Khan Market in Delhi and Linking Road in Mumbai demand high rents as compared with the malls in the city) and high visibility. However, the stores on high streets provide more efficient spaces with low incidental costs such as Common Area Maintenance charges. They have also been the prime real estate strategy for retailers seeking to enter the non-metro areas of India, which remain largely untapped and have less development of organised mall spaces.

India’s non-metro towns and cities are dominated by traditional high streets that are usually located in the central area. The retail stores on these high streets are usually located on the ground and first floors of properties along the major roads, and do not offer such standardised facilities as parking and central air-conditioning. However, as consumers’ preferences change, so high street retail properties are also upgrading their facilities to entice customers by providing more facilities.

High streets remain the flair and flavour of the Indian shopping experience and Indian shoppers still prefer high streets – along with some malls – for their shopping and entertainment, especially in the non-metro areas. Retailers tend to focus on value and convenience, and all major retailers perceive promising opportunities in both metro and non-metro cities due to increasing purchasing power of the Indian consumer. High streets therefore provide the best alternative when seeking to tap an opportunity in the absence of malls.


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