It wasn't at a peak shopping time, nor was it somewhere I might have expected to see such an obviously expensive new development (such as Mumbai or Delhi) - it was in the comparative outpost of Kochi in the southern state of Kerala. Nonetheless shoppers were there in droves and the tills were ringing.
I tried to keep my eyes on the weans as they ran from the giant food court area straight into the humungous leisure area which takes up about half of the top floor (replete with dodgems, soft play, fairground rides, climbing wall, bowling alley and an ice rink) but it was tricky. I was distracted by the colourful and fascinating swarm of shoppers including women in their best, most dazzling sarees herding their own kids, men chatting in their best lungis or mundus and the incongruous sight of ladies in full burkas climbing into a "scream if you want to go faster" fairground ride.
As I tried to keep up with my nippers who were disappearing in the direction of the bright shiny lights, I couldn't help but reach one obvious conclusion: "this place is heaving"!
My eyes had been opened to the popularity of destination shopping, which is exploding across certain parts of Asia.
The landlord of the Indian mega-mall clearly understood the benefit of "retailtainment". Yes, I know - but it's better than "entertailing" which just looks like a typo. I'm talking about that mix of retail and entertainment which has also seen incremental growth over the last few years in the UK in shopping centres and out of town retail parks. Increasingly space is given over to leisure and food / beverages ("F&B") use, at the expense of (or rather to complement) the retail offer.
Retailers themselves are also increasingly looking within their own units to improve the shopping experience by entertaining customers as they browse. American brands like Disney, Apple and Abercrombie & Fitch / Hollister lead the way in providing a shopping experience which aims to make the customer feel invested in the brand.
In Scotland the next major live shopping centre redevelopment in the pipeline is the £850m St James Centre in Edinburgh which is currently expected to include a 5 star hotel, multiplex cinema and 30 restaurants (which are intended to cover the full spectrum from informal to fine dining). This focus on attractive F&B and leisure is expected both to pull folk in and to keep them there in a mood to spend.
Out of town retail park landlords have been slower but appear to be catching up to the benefits of increasing the percentage of F&B on overall footfall. Anchor tenants are increasingly diversifying to include more pleasant dining experiences within the store, coffee shops, travel agents, soft plays, nail bars and gyms.
Occupiers should take advice on their lease terms if considering granting such concessions or altering their own store to improve their retailtainment factor - including the provisions on user, alienation, alterations, signage and planning. They should also consider whether any statutory or other consents are required.
Are we at saturation point?
Data published by the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) suggests a recent slowdown in the proportion of shopping centre space being given over to leisure use, potentially indicating that we might be getting towards saturation point.
However, the non-retail uses that feature in shopping centres are still fairly limited in scope. As high street retailers up and down the country continue to struggle to reclaim shoppers, it will be those centres which strike an intriguing balance of retail, leisure, food, community use and some x factor that will be the winners. Individual retailers who embrace the concept should also benefit. That is why Retailtainment is to be a headline hot topic at MAPIC 2015.
I will be at BCSC in Manchester on 16 September 2015. If you're planning to go and would like catch up please get in touch.