Only half of visitors to malls come to shop, says IIT study

Anyone who has tried to visit the malls in the city knows how difficult it is to simply cross the street to get to them, or even walk out of them with shopping bags in both hands. Cars, autorickshaws and pedestrians jostle for space, adding to chaos on the arterial road.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, recently decided to look at this from a planning perspective. In a survey of 650 visitors in five shopping malls across the city, they explored how and why Mumbaikars visit malls.

The study, published in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, found that 53% of users visit malls for reasons apart from shopping, indicating they provide options for leisure and entertainment. Although 70% of trips in Mumbai are made by public transport, only 20% of these are to or from malls.

The study found that the use of cars increased with an increase in income levels, even though the use of autorickshaws was comparable across income groups. Although the use of cars and autorickshaws remained higher during weekends and weekdays, there was an increase in the use of public transport and two-wheelers during the weekends.

Half the visitors preferred weekends to visit malls, especially during the afternoons and evenings.

Only half of visitors to malls come to shop, says IIT study

“Traditionally, shopping trips were not substantial. With the change in lifestyle in urban areas and the availability of a large number of shopping malls that offer recreation, these trips have increased,” said professor Gopal Patil of the department of civil engineering at IIT Bombay, the lead author of the study.

Almost 40% of those who drove down to malls came to shop, but most of those who were there for leisure preferred to walk. The use of public transport was highest among mall employees.

Those above 55 years of age mostly used cars to travel to malls, and those below 18 years used autorickshaws and cars. Those between 18 and 30 years chose two-wheelers or public transport.

“Travelling by public transport is not comfortable and often not reliable; thus, many prefer personalised vehicles. With increased income, most households have two-wheelers, and a large number of them can afford a car,” prof. Patil said.

The study aims to highlight traffic congestion issues around malls. “It is important to understand how people make travel-related choices for shopping mall trips. This information can help transport planners and decision makers to address their needs,” he said.

To begin with, said prof. Patil, all major stations could have modern shopping malls. Also, existing malls could provide parking space to autorickshaws. “Air-conditioned buses could be run from these areas, with provision for luggage,” he said.

Prof. Patil said the data on use of public transport in Mumbai is encouraging: it is one of the few cities in the world where more than 70% of the trips, excluding those for work, are by public transit systems. “In places like Shanghai, railway stations have huge malls, and shoppers do not have to come out at all. In Mumbai, only one or two places have such facilities.”

While shoppers cannot be expected to change their travel habits, he hopes planners can influence them through facilities.

Given that Mumbai — unlike other global cities that have more recreation options — spends most ofi ts leisure time at malls, this should be a cause for concern.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 11:52:48 AM |

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