Life on the high street

With the rise of luxury housing and residents seeking easy access to retail, dining and leisure experiences, high streets are mushrooming across India

September 15, 2023 03:29 pm | Updated 04:07 pm IST

In recent years, India has witnessed a remarkable transformation in its real estate landscape. As affluent residents seek convenient access to upscale amenities and services, the demand for localised retail, dining, and leisure experiences is on the rise. This phenomenon is expected to lead to the emergence of high streets across the country. The confluence of luxury housing and thriving high streets presents an exciting prospect for India’s urban development.

Real estate developers value high streets for their profit potential, considering them prime locations for commercial projects due to their ability to attract high footfall and generate substantial rental income, making them a top choice for investment and development. A successful high street in India hinges on several crucial factors. First and foremost, it should boast a robust retail concentration, featuring a wide array of shops and services. Equally important is accessibility, ensuring ease of travel by road, and public transport, and the availability of parking facilities.

Diverse tenant mix

The lifeblood of high streets is foot traffic, attracting a substantial customer base, thanks to heavy pedestrian flow. Outward facing access and large frontage also play a crucial role. Additionally, a diverse tenant mix, combining retail, dining, and entertainment options, contributes to an alluring and bustling atmosphere.

Finally, the high street should have a well-established reputation as a shopping and entertainment hub, magnetising both local residents and tourists. These elements collectively make high streets prime locations for developers, offering significant potential for commercial success and investment returns.

Culinary calling
High streets in luxury housing developments are not just about shopping; they are also emerging as culinary destinations. Upscale dining experiences, fine restaurants, cafes, and bars are integral components of these high streets. Residents can savour gourmet meals, enjoy exotic cocktails, and explore a diverse range of culinary delights, all within walking distance of their homes. Entertaining visitors also becomes very easy at these locations. This not only adds to the convenience of daily life but also contributes to the vibrancy and appeal of the area.

Luxury housing developments are on the rise in India, catering to the growing affluence and aspirations of their clientele. These developments offer a lifestyle that goes beyond comfortable living spaces; they come replete with state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology, and a plethora of amenities designed to elevate the quality of life. Such luxury residences were typically located in the downtown areas of big cities but of late, many such developments are springing up in the suburban areas, especially in cities like Mumbai. This is due to lack of space in downtown locations and expansion of infrastructure and connectivity in suburban districts.

In India, the term ‘high street’ typically refers to a prime commercial or retail area within a city or town. These streets are characterised by a bustling mix of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and other businesses.

High streets are valuable real estate opportunities due to their potential for high customer visibility and sales. Successful high streets often lead to infrastructure improvement in the locality. The first high street in India was South Parade in Bengaluru, which is now known as M.G. Road. It was built in the 19th century by the British colonial government and was originally designed as a residential area for European officials. However, it soon became a popular shopping destination for both locals and foreigners. Today, M.G. Road is one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan streets in India, with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

Best in class
A survey by Knight Frank this year reveals Bengaluru’s M.G. Road as the ‘first best high street’ in India. Anna Nagar and Nungambakkam High Road in Chennai, Jubilee Hills and Somajiguda in Hyderabad, Linking Road and Lower Parel in Mumbai, Connaught Place and Khan Market in Delhi, and Park Street and Carnac Street in Kolkata, find mention in the list. Commercial Street, Brigade Road and Church Street in Bengaluru have also been ranked.

As India’s purchasing power continues to expand and high-end residential complexes become more widely available, the synergy between luxury housing and high streets becomes increasingly apparent. These luxury housing communities are not just places to live; they are becoming microcosms of urban life, complete with their own commercial, retail, and entertainment ecosystems. Residents of these developments are seeking more than just a place to sleep; they want an integrated living experience that includes access to upscale shopping, fine dining, cultural events, and recreational facilities.

This desire for a holistic lifestyle is driving the development of high streets in close proximity to luxury housing complexes. Many mixed-use and township developments are seeing higher traction due to the availability of this very lifestyle that the consumers are looking for.

Consumer preferences

One of the key drivers behind the emergence of high streets in India is changing consumer behaviour and preferences of the country’s affluent population. Traditionally, Indian consumers were accustomed to visiting sprawling shopping malls in search of branded products and international brands.

However, there is a shift towards a preference for localised, curated, and unique shopping experiences. High streets, with their mix of branded and non-branded retail products, artisanal stores, and boutique outlets, cater perfectly to this evolving consumer demand.

Moreover, high streets offer a sense of community and neighbourhood that is often lacking in mega malls. They provide spaces for people to meet, socialise, and connect, fostering a sense of belonging and participation. This community aspect is especially important in luxury housing developments, where residents are looking for a sense of exclusivity and a close-knit social environment.

Saving on travel

Additionally, the growth of high streets in suburban areas can have a positive impact on reducing traffic congestion in city centres. As residents of luxury housing developments have access to high-quality retail and dining options in their neighbourhoods, they are less likely to commute to crowded city centres for shopping and entertainment. This can help alleviate the burden on urban infrastructure and improve overall quality of life.

Recent data from CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd. highlights the growing trend of retail leasing across investment-grade malls, high streets, and standalone developments in India. In the first half of 2023, Mumbai recorded a 14.6% year-on-year increase in retail leasing. This is indicative of the increasing demand for retail spaces, and high streets are playing a significant role in this growth.

Retail space rental
A study was conducted for 30 high streets across the top eight cities of India, based on parameters that determined the quality of experience they provided to customers. To understand how Indian high streets fared in comparison to their global counterparts in terms of rental cost, a comparison was made of the three most expensive high streets in India with key global cities — New York, Paris, London, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Indian high streets proved less expensive for retailers to set shop. Even in Khan Market, the most expensive high street in India, the annual rent per sq.m. of retail space was less than the monthly cost of occupying similar real estate space in Paris.

The emergence of high streets in luxury housing developments is not limited to a single city or region. With more and more global brands entering India, most metros are seeing an increasing high street footprint. But this trend is gradually spreading to various urban centres across India. As more developers recognise the potential of creating integrated living and retail spaces, we can expect to see a proliferation of high streets in suburban areas. This expansion will not only transform the real estate landscape but also contribute to the economic growth of these regions.

The writer is Head of sales, marketing, and CRM, Runwal Group.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.