Author’s Blurb: I haven’t been to a mall since March 18, and I do miss it a little. I used to go to the mall at least once a month with friends, whether it was for hotpot or a movie. With the pandemic, mall culture has changed, though I’ve yet to experience it myself.
Social distancing and increased hygiene practices are now the norm all over, and they’re changing how we shop.
SOPs will most likely vary in small ways from mall to mall, but we managed to learn a little about what Sunway Malls would be doing in their own malls.
Across their 7 malls, they’re implementing over 82 measures as they reopen to welcome the mass public once again.
Taking Sunway Velocity Mall’s measures as an example, here are some of the biggest ways our mall shopping experiences have changed.
1. Shops Will Have Flexi Hours
In Sunway Velocity Mall, tenants AKA the stores will be getting flexi operating hours, which means that they will open for 8 hours instead of the usual 12 hours.
This is being done to help them tackle business costs beyond rental rebates, and a Sunway Malls representative shared that this could save up to 120 hours of wages and utilities cost in a 30-day trading period.
What does this mean for shoppers then?
Shoppers will have to be more proactive in terms of checking when a shop they’d like to visit will be open, and Sunway Velocity Mall and its tenants have made this information readily available on their website.
It’s a bit more of a hassle to have to take this extra step, but we need to keep in mind that this is helping our stores stay alive for the meantime.
2. No More “Just Popping By The Store”
Remember when we used to be able to pop by the mall, rush in and get something quick and then pop back out and be on our merry way home?
Now there’re temperature checks and registrations to be done, all for the good of public health, of course.
However, this means that the overall process of even getting started on your shopping will be delayed, particularly if you’re not only getting checked by the main entrances of the mall, but also by individual shops themselves.
If you have a temperature above 37.5C, you won’t even make it in past the welcome mats.
Handheld scanners tend to be a bit more unreliable, with some people reporting that they’ve been turned away due to their temperatures being inaccurately measured.
Therefore, Sunway Velocity Mall has implemented thermal and contactless temperature scanners to speed up the process.
3. Longer Queues, But Not Necessarily Because Of The Crowd
Thanks to social distancing markers, a limited number of people will be allowed in the store at any one time.
Even if there are less people in the queue, it will still take a while for you to finally get your turn in the store.
This would also apply to the toilets, since certain cubicles and sinks will be closed off for social distancing.
Sunway Malls is actually implementing a wider social distancing range of about 2 metres in common areas, exceeding the recommended 1 metre.
Overall, the capacity of people in the mall will be reduced. Despite this reduction, it doesn’t quite mean that there will be no queues.
In fact, the representative told Vulcan Post that their data has shown a 50-60% recovery of footfall, taking their pre-MCO levels into account.
4. Hassle-Free, Contactless Collection Of Purchases
If you’re not there for the walking and window-shopping experience, then there’s an alternative option for you to get what you need.
Sunway Velocity Mall has initiated a drive-through to accompany their Order & Collect initiative, where shoppers can contact participating outlets and purchase products.
These products can then be picked up at their Jalan Peel entrance, and there’s even a dedicated space there where shoppers can “park” for a short moment for collection.
Of course, you could opt for online shopping if it applies to the store, but being able to pick it up on the same day of purchase means no waiting at all.
5. You Might Finally Have To Switch To Contactless Payments
91% of Sunway Velocity Mall’s tenants already accept contactless payments, and you’d be better off just adopting it already.
Aside from e-wallets, cards that you can simply just swipe or tap also count as contactless payments, so you shouldn’t be completely left out.
And hey, this means that you don’t have to go hunting for that elusive mall ATM machine anymore when you need to make a purchase.
6. Malls Will Be A Lot Cleaner Now
One thing that many of us would hope stays long after the pandemic are the increased sanitisation efforts.
From escalator rails, lobbies and lifts to even those information screens, malls are putting in more effort to keep them clean.
Sunway Velocity Mall is also taking hygiene to the air with fogging disinfection done inside lobbies, lifts and toilets, areas where people will frequent.
According to the representative, they use a sodium solution which is safe for exposure to humans, so patrons won’t have to leave the immediate space during fogging.
I’ve never felt like cleaning services being carried out in the mall (pre-MCO) disrupted my shopping experience, instead it increased my confidence in the hygiene of the mall.
With people being more paranoid today, these initiatives being openly shown should help to appease shoppers’ fears.
While not all malls may be strictly turning away people who don’t wear masks, we all should be responsible enough to wear one if we’re leaving the house.
After all, we’ll also be in heavily air conditioned malls, not in the blistering outside heat. If our construction workers can wear masks as they work, we can do it while we shop.
Something that I think all malls and public-access buildings should implement are foot operated doors, the kinds where you don’t have to touch anything with your bare hands.
Such a lifesaver, and they don’t look to expensive to implement either. In my opinion, this should’ve been normalised long before COVID-19, as it’s one of the easiest ways to avoid direct contact with a high-touch surface.
Avoiding touching elevator buttons will be a bit trickier, but Bangkok’s Seacon Square has managed to implement foot pedals in replacement of buttons, so I believe that we might not be that far behind.
Though, of course, this would depend on whether malls and other public-access buildings will be willing to make the investments.
Bottom Line: I’m actually quite excited to return to malls soon, but I will be a bit wary. I know that there will be some irresponsible people around who won’t care to respect social distancing SOPs where there aren’t any markers, so I’ll just have to do my best to avoid them. It’s kind of like driving, where you might not be the one to cause an accident but you’re at risk of being caught in one anyway.
- You can read more COVID-19 related articles here.
Featured Image Credit: Sunway Velocity Mall