Shopping Centers Russia Август 2021 Август 2021 - Page 61

In St. Petersburg, it was the food courts that were unlucky: they were closed most of the time since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, restaurants with a separate entrance and a service hall could work. Mikhail Goncharov, co-owner of the Teremok network, in his blog on Facebook was outraged by the queues and dense seating of guests at McDonalds restaurants located at the same facilities and, in fact, no different from a food court in terms of the spread of the virus. Many St. Petersburg restaurateurs admit that such situations made them think, do they really need points on indoor food courts? Moreover, food trucks and open areas with fast food have been gaining popularity in the northern capital lately.

The authorities of the Krasnodar Territory acted even easier: having closed food service in shopping centers at the very beginning of the first lockdown, they never revised this decision. At the time of this writing, food courts in the South of Russia had not been operating for 16 months, having stood with closed doors for two holiday seasons. Small operators, however, simply removed the equipment, many of them closed completely. How these draconian measures influenced the spread of the virus in the region is not possible to determine.

One for all and one for himself

During the first quarantine, the regional authorities, as a rule, did not differentiate between food service establishments located at the food court, in a separate premises of the shopping center or in the street, so that all market participants were in the same position. It was at that moment that the unification of the industry began in the face of the crisis: for example, the capital's restaurateurs signed a special declaration, pledging not to occupy the premises that were vacated after the departure of competitors for a year. However, the tactics of negotiations with the authorities proved to be much more effective. The public ombudsman of the Russian Federation in the field of small and medium-sized businesses, restaurateur Anastasia Tatulova, and the restaurant business representative in Moscow, Sergey Mironov, actively lobbied for the abolition of VAT for food service enterprises as an anticrisis measure. As a result, in early June, the tax was really cancelled for the entire restaurant business with revenue of less than 2 billion rubles a year. In addition, operators with up to 1,500 employees have the opportunity to pay insurance premiums at a reduced rate.

However, restaurateurs did not agree to negotiate rent with the owners and management companies of the shopping center, preferring to negotiate discounts or rental vacations on their own. Including because they understood that the pandemic had put landlords and tenants in the same boat.

Useful toxic location

In the last "big" weekend in the capital (June 12-14), if not an influx of buyers in shopping centers (after all, the summer season), then at least stable "entertainment" traffic of Muscovites who did not gather outside the city for holidays was expected. However, the Shopping Index in Moscow this weekend was 9.71% lower than the previous weekend (June 5-6), according to the Watcom Group. On average, in the 23rd week of the year (June 7-13), the Shopping Index in Moscow shopping centers turned out to be 13.5% lower than the indicator for the same period in 2019, and the rate of recovery relative to the indicators of the crisis in 2020 slowed down 2.5 times. The same decision of the mayor's office on QR codes had an effect — and in addition to food courts, children's entertainment centers also fell under distribution. In aggregate, according to Watcom's estimates, food service and entertainment operators can provide up to 30% of the site's traffic.

When choosing a shopping center for a weekend trip, many families value the food court first, the entertainment component (cinema, children's centers) and, lastly, the tenant mix of retailers, so a closed food service can simply make people prefer some kind of food court. it is a different kind of leisure. For example, in the case of Moscow — to go out of town, especially since the restrictions there were much milder.