In a move that is winning laurels from the retailers community and consumers alike, the Lt. Governor of Delhi has allowed over 300+ entities to operate round-the clock, that is 24 hrs of activity. These include Hotels, Restaurants, Retail stores, Malls and Shopping Centres. The ongoing guidelines do not permit continuation of business beyond 11pm, a rule which is archaic and is chided by many, especially international travellers and global Indians.
Shri VK Saxena, the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of Delhi approved the proposal from 314 such applications, which are purportedly pending since 2016. The LG has directed the notification to be effected within 7 days, a move which is considered a Diwali Gift by the Industry. On the other hand, a certain segment of the population is also concerned about increasing crime rates in the national capital.
Several retailers expressed their joy on the move as this could rake in incremental walk-ins, leading to higher sales and revenues. Vikram, a third genration entrepreneur who’s family operates a dozen restaurants and bars in the city said that the earnings could increase by 25-30% in the next 3 months, given that this is the season when most NRIs return India during the festive period, coupled with the Big fat Indian wedding season. “We pay a rent to the shops / Malls for the whole day and night, but the assets are not sweat fully. I have seen during my studies in Singapore that shops are run for over 18 hrs, thus making more returns per sft, unlike in India” says Vikram.
Malls and Shopping Centres are expected to be among the biggest beneficiaries, bringing Delhi in lines with Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai + several middle eastern countries and several Asian markets where retail therapy flows late in to midnight. “Many customers are now tuned to the fact that there would be traffic snarls on the way back home, so they prefer shopping on weekdays for a peaceful experience. Now this would encourage them to plan their evenings even better”, says Gautam Gulati, a Franchise operator who runs 4 stores in a top mall in South Delhi.
Standalone Restaurants, especially those with a L-17 liquor license stand to benefit the most, as they are forced by law to stop serving beyond 1am. When diners know there is no time limit to complete their sessions, they may continue late in to the night. 5-star hotels are also not exempt from this rule, except for the 24-hr coffee shops which have a permit. Even there, serving alcohol is not permitted beyond 1am except for in-room dining.
The biggest concern, however remains tackling the crime rate in the city which is notorious for various women-related atrocities, as well as mugging / looting of the public at large. It needs to be seen how Delhi Police will handle this situation, given that the country’s capital is getting a major face-lift on many fronts, including a new promenade in the city centre.