Kochi: The term ‘kochu Keralam (little Kerala)’ no longer makes any sense, taking into account the number of malls which have been propping up across the State in recent times.
Kerala will soon have more high-end shopping centres featuring premium brands and luxury escapades than any other State in the country. Several projects are being planned in different cities, put on drawing boards, while many are in the final stages of construction.
The State will see a staggering increase in the number of mall inventory in the near future since as many as 35 ‘all-in-one stores’ are currently under construction in cities and towns in eleven districts in the State, bringing a complete shift from shopping habits of yesteryears.
These will add to the existing 15 luxury malls in the State, including the recently-launched Sobha City Mall in Thrissur. The proposed malls are in different stages of construction or design. The projects will come up in small towns such as Thaliparamba, Perinthalmanna and Mananthavady, apart from major cities and district headquarters.
Even a consultant company offering professional help to developers planning to invest in malls by conducting market research have started its operations in the State. Notably, a majority of the new projects are undertaken in partnership with NRKs.
With a total construction area exceeding one lakh square feet, malls are an organised way of having the shops together. Besides numerous high end shopping brands, the centrally air-conditioned shopping malls generally host supermarkets, multiplexes and food courts, as well as parking and leisure facilities.
Kochi leads the rest of the State in terms of the highest concentration of shopping malls, accounting for as many as five high-end malls including the sprawling LuLu International Shopping Mall near Edappally. In Ernakulam district alone, 10 more malls are currently under construction, that include one each in Aluva and Muvattupuzha.
At present, many district in the State, including Thiruvananthpuram, Alappuzha, Kottayam Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad and Kasaragod are without a single mall, but within two or three years the situation will change. New shopping malls will be surfacing in all other districts except Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Kasaragod.
Three plush shopping complexes each are under construction in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode while in Kannur, construction of four malls is in progress. The other malls that are in various stages of construction are: one each in Kottayam and Alappuzha, two each in Kollam Palakkad and Thrissur, five in Malappuram (three in Tirur, one each in Perinthalmanna and Manjeri) and one each in Mananthavady and Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad.
Much of the ‘shopping mall boom’ in the State could be attributed to the remarkable success of the LuLu mall in Kochi. Propelled by the success of their Kochi outlet, the Lulu group has drawn up plans to set up branches in Thiruvananathapuram, Thrissur and Kozhikode. The new trend reflects the peculiar characteristics of the Kerala society in emulating a successful business model.
Malls require huge investment, approximately over Rs 50 crore excluding the cost of land. The estimated cost of each mall under construction in the State could exceed Rs 80 crore, taking the total investment in all the 35 malls to around Rs 3,000 crore.
Each facility will generate direct or indirect employment opportunities to over 1,000 persons. So, over 35,000 persons will be benefitting from the upcoming 35 projects. Taking the existing 15 malls into account, over 50,000 employment opportunities would be created in each area within a couple of years.