Skip to main content

Shopping Malls in Agra: A Revisit

An unfinished Pacific Mall (now only Pacific Cinemas)
Follow Up: For its inaugural piece Opinion Tandoor looked at shopping malls in Agra. As the concept of ‘shopping malls’ has taken a hit world over as well as in India, this story from about three years ago pronounced it a failure in the city. A three year interlude has provided a good opportunity to reassess if shopping malls still languish or if they have managed to gain some ground in the local economy. 


Taking things forward from where they were left off, the two shopping malls that were discussed in the last piece in much detail- TDI and Pacific malls on the Fatehabad leading to the Taj Mahal, have not witnessed a change in their fortunes. If anything things have gone from bad to worse. Especially the Pacific mall, the first ever mall to open shop in the city, remains deserted, unfinished and completely abandoned but for the Pacific cinemas on the top floor, which took over the multiplex after Fun Cinemas left.

Many shops have shifted locations
Adjacent to it stands TDI mall- a fully finished massive shopping complex, close to the township which the TDI group had launched shortly after Yamuna Expressway had begun construction and plans were announced to link it to Fatehabad road through a six lane ring road. Yamuna expressway is up and about and the ring road has also begun to come up. Yet the fortunes of this mall as well as the township have crashed and not risen. Much like three years ago Big cinemas occupies the top floor. Except for a few handicrafts and apparel stores and a solitary Mc Donald’s restaurant, all shops remain deserted. Stores planning to launch here have been launched elsewhere and many others have shifted locations from here.



Pre-emptive Investments

One of the reasons that these malls crashed and burned is the pre-emptive strategy. As already mentioned Yamuna expressway- one of its kind in the entire country, was announced and the city’s real estate sector went berserk. Small landowners began to profit from selling their lands to big real estate companies both from Agra and outside. New townships were launched. The entire Fatehabad and Shamshabad road (running parallel to each other) area became proliferated with commercial and residential projects. TDI and Pacific malls were also a part of this craze.

Yamuna expressway took time to come up. The ring road was not even in conception phase until last year. Residential projects were left lurking in the predominantly rural outskirts of the city where no one was ready to move yet. As a result a strong consumer base never materialised near these shopping malls who might have thronged these complexes. A very touristy area- Fatehabad Road which houses all the big multi-national hotel groups did not help out in terms of foot fall, because firstly tourists usually don’t come to foreign countries to visit their shopping malls and secondly the area was heavily influenced by tourist guide lobbies without whose endorsements most shops fail to profit in the area. 

Meanwhile recession hit the globe and most multi-national and national scale retail outlets were also affected. With a dwindling consumer base shops in these malls were first to be closed, but eventually opened up elsewhere as single stores or part of conventional shopping complexes.

Relative Success Elsewhere

In the other parts of the city two other malls followed. One came up in the central business area of the city- Sanjay Place. This vertically elongated mall named Ashok Cosmos run by a local entrepreneur, never opened up on full scale. A Reliance store, a Mc Donald’s restaurant, an Easy Day store and a Tata car dealership were and still are the only running shops here. Contrary to the trend the mall never opened up a multiplex. Situated right in the heart of the city, with a huge office complex, many businesses, city’s computer hub, shops, banks and other commercial establishments and offices nearby, the mall has always had a decent footfall. With a small amphitheatre outside the mall it also plays host to many big and small events such as product promotions, mini-concerts, festival celebrations etc.



Shopping Malls in Agra

The other mall is located on the National Highway-2 which connects Delhi and Kolkata bypassing Agra. Originally planned as a Wedding Mall, this shopping complex is now known as the SRK mall named after a local entrepreneur.  Following convention it houses a Cineplex belonging to the SRS franchise. This mall has been perhaps the most successful. Much like Ashok Cosmos, it too never opened up on full scale operations, but remains more successful in that it still manages to attract new stores opening up, even those which closed shop in other malls in the city such as Pantaloons and Archie’s previously located within TDI and Pacific Malls respectively besides the existing successfully running Shopper’s Stop among others.



Omaxe SRK Mall never opened at full scale and continues to add stores along the way.


National highway being close to the central parts of the city and many residential and commercial developments having come up on the bypass road itself provide a substantial consumer base to let this mall prosper and build upon its relative success.

Cardinal Rule of Real Estate: Location

Location plays an important role in deciding the fate of real estate. Trajectory of shopping malls in Agra certainly proves this. The fact that the earlier shopping malls located in the southern areas of the city, close to Taj Mahal failed while those inside and nearer to main business district of the city continue to sustain, proves this to an extent. Real estate sector has a long gestation period for successful materialisation. Thus pre-emptive whole sole investment in case of TDI and Pacific Malls was a clear miscalculation of prospective opportunities.

 Meanwhile location of malls in and around busy areas show that presence of a longstanding middle and upper class elite in an area is important for trying out newer concepts of shopping and other lifestyle opportunities. More than the shopping malls individual stores and open access shopping complexes have thrived in the central parts of the city especially along the arterial Mahatma Gandhi (M.G.) Road.

Resurgence of Traditional Businesses

For some reasons traditional options of shopping and leisure never quite went away in the city. A general decline in single screen movie theatre culture witnessed with the closing down of some massive units such as Anjana cinema (with largest capacity of seats) and Shah Talkies nearby, saw some resurgence when some of the previously lower rated single screen theatres such as Mehar talkies renovated themselves and adapted multiple film screening format in single screen theatres itself- perhaps a local innovation.

Singularly standing retail stores and culinary franchise units have continued to thrive in the city. These include both, owned by multinational retail chains as well as by local trading elite. At the same time traditional bazaars like on in the cantonment area- Sadar Bazaar continue to attract a lot of foot fall and customers. A deeper analysis of local shopping culture and consumer behaviour can better reveal the reason for this phenomenon.

Lessons from Agra

A predominantly trading and business based city, Agra provides some important lessons. Even with relative success of shopping malls in other parts of city than the initial ones, these still remain a long way from fully blooming. Huge investments and slow returns do not add up well. As already mentioned shopping mall culture is on a decline worldwide. Perhaps it is time to assess whether shopping mall is an idea whose time has come and gone.

-Sumit

Most Read

उच्च माध्यमिक स्तर पर सामाजिक पाठ्य विषय: महत्व और वस्तुस्थिति।

प्रस्तावना: हिन्दुस्तान के कई शहरों में उच्च माध्यमिक स्तर पर सामाजिक पाठ्य विषयों का विकल्प छात्र-छात्राओं के लिए मौजूद नही है। पर इस स्थिति पर एक समग्र विश्लेषणात्मक शोध की भारी कमी है।विज्ञान, वाणिज्य, कला या अन्य विषय समूह से चुने गए विषय ही निर्धारित करते हैं कि विद्यार्थी आगे जा कर किस क्षेत्र में काम करेगा पर साथ ही यह भी कि उसका सामाजिक और राजनैतिक दृष्टिकोण क्या होगा। इसलिए सामाजिक पाठ्यक्रम को मिलने वाली चुनौतियों के मद्देनज़र उच्च माध्यमिक स्तर पर ध्यान देना अति आवश्यक है।

Ranglok Theatre Festival: Putting Agra On The Indian Theatre Map

Monsoon perhaps inspires more art than any other season; especially performance art. So, what could be better than a festival of theatre to be held right in the midst of this season. Ranglok Sanskritik Sansthan, one of the most prominent theatre groups in the city of Agra, is bringing a four-day theatre festival to the iconic Sursadan auditorium in Agra this month. To be held from 22nd of July till 25th of July, Ranglok Theatre Festival will feature four plays.

हिन्दी एक्शन-फंतासी कॉमिक उपसंस्कृति की यात्रा- इंद्रजाल से लेकर राज कॉमिक्स तक

एक्शन और फंतासी का मिलन एक बेहद शक्तिशाली सांस्कृतिक गठजोड़ है। और अक्सर यह सांस्कृतिक रूप से महत्वपूर्ण गठजोड़ उपभोक्तावाद के लिए भी बहुमूल्य हो जाता है। हैरी पॉर्टर की उपन्यास श्रंखला के लिए पूरे विश्व में दीवानगी को देख लीजिए या फिर अमेरिका की कॉमिक बुक इंडस्ट्री की आपार सफलता को ही, एक्शन और फंतासी की ताकत का अंदाज़ा आपको लग जाएगा। इस गठजोड़ से हमेशा एक उपसंस्कृति का जन्म होता है जिससे उपजे संसार या फिर बहु-संसारों में बच्चे और युवा रोमांच और आनंद तलाशते हैं।
क्योंकि यह उपसंस्कृति भाषा से निर्मित होती है, इसलिए अलग-अलग भाषाएँ और उनका सामाजिक संदर्भ इन उपसंस्कृतियों का स्वरूप निर्धारित करते हैं। हिन्दी भाषा में आधुनिक समय में पहला एक्शन और फंतासी का गठजोड़, हिन्दी साहित्य के पहले उपन्यासों में से एक, देवकी नंदन खतरी द्वारा रचित ‘चंद्रकांता’ में देखा जा सकता है। तिलिस्म और एक्शन से भरपूर इस उपन्यास में कई ऐसे तत्व थे जिन्होंने इस रचनावली को उस समय में ही नहीं, बल्कि आगे के समय में भी लोगों के लिए रोचक और आकर्षक बनाए रखा।
हिन्दी कॉमिक बुक्स का संसार कभी बहुत समृद्ध या वृहद नहीं रहा, पर एक…