Delhi pollution: Eateries and malls too finding it difficult to breathe in Delhi-NCR

The eating out and entertainment industry has seen an 8-10% drop in revenue in the first fornight of November.

High air pollution levels hit the eating-out and entertainment industry in the National Capital Region, resulting in an 8-10% drop in revenue in the first fortnight of November from a year earlier as people stayed indoors or went out of town, industry officials said.

“The first fortnight of November has seen a dip of about 10% in revenue,” said Rahul Singh, promoter of the Beer Café, which has 17 outlets in the NCR. “The post-Diwali detox got compounded by the air pollution and odd-even vehicle arrangement, which reduced the propensity of consumers stepping out.”

National Restaurant Association of India president Anurag Katriar said the impact of pollution on dining out has been sweeping.


“A lot of people left the cities for other parts of India as schools had been closed multiple times. Many worked from home and many others remained cautious, closely monitoring pollution levels,” said Katriar, also chief executive officer of deGustibus Hospitality, which operates restaurants like Indigo. Private weather forecasting agency Skymet and a report by IQ Air Visual named New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world, with the average air quality index crossing the 500 mark on Friday morning.

Pollution-Watch

Dhruv Sharma, promoter of food and entertainment complex 32nd Milestone Ventures, said after Diwali and for the three days last week when air pollution levels touched 900, there were no customers.

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“It was sort of a ghost town and very surprising for a Friday evening,” he said. Even on days when pollution levels were down, many people sat inside the premises, when they would otherwise be outside in this season, he said.

Select CityWalk Mall centre head Deepak Zutshi said while more people opted to stay inside the mall, pollution severely affected the high street markets.

According to a division of the ministry of earth sciences, stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana contributed to the air pollution in New Delhi. The Delhi government restricted the plying of private cars from November 4 to 15. Kabir Suri, VP of NRAI, said consumer reactions to pollution varied in different areas.

“Standalone retail markets and F&B venues are seeing more of an effect of the poor levels of pollutions. Some malls, though, are seeing volume uptake as most have started providing large air purification systems,” said Suri, also managing director of Azure Hospitality, which manages Mamagoto and Rollmaal.

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Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida together are among the top five dining and entertainment markets in the country, industry officials said.

Speciality Restaurants managing director Anjan Chatterjee, the chain that operates Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta, said downward trend in dining-in was distinct, although delivery orders went up.

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Delivery aggregator Swiggy declined to comment, while Zomato did not immediately respond to an emailed query. An email sent to PVR, India’s largest cinema chain, remained unanswered till press time.
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