The Corner

More Shopping-Mall Space Is Under Construction In One City in China than All of Europe

And it’s a city you may not have even heard of: Chengdu, an inland city that casually contains 14 million people. Forbes writes about a report on the state of mall construction around the world in 2012 from global real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis, and notes that the 86 cities throughout Europe the firm considers have fewer malls under construction than Chengdu. Specifically, Chengdu has 2.9 million square meters’ worth of malls currently in development, and opened four new shopping malls in 2012, amounting to 600,000 square meters of space. The top ten cities in the world for space under development right now:

1. Chengdu, China

2. Tianjin, China

3. Istanbul, Turkey

4. Shenyang, China

5. Chongquing, China

6. Wuhan, China

7. Guangzhou, China

8. Hangzhou, China

9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

10. Abu Dabi, UAE

Seven of the ten cities are Chinese, but you’ll also notice that St. Petersburg and Istanbul are on there — Forbes’s Europe comparison excludes Turkey and Russia (a decision Daniel Pipes supports), which would have changed the picture dramatically. Those are the region’s two biggest emerging economies, and shopping-mall construction is huge in emerging markets, so the less-than-friendly Black Sea neighbors actually account for much more of this type of development than all of the rest of Europe combined (the recent protests in Turkey broke out over the government’s plan to cover an ancient square and park with a mall). 

So this isn’t just about Europe’s economic lethargy: Shopping malls are absolutely massive projects, so industrialized nations have just about as much as they need and in this economic climate no one’s risking trying to develop more – especially as online shopping and other models challenge the relevance or desirability of shopping malls. But in the meantime, it’s still something emerging economies and their customers don’t have nearly enough of, so they’re building acres of them. Assuming these malls actually get leased and used (sometimes a questionable proposition in China), that’s a great thing for Western retail brands, but also for American and European real-estate and construction firms to the extent that they can get access to these markets. If there’s one thing decadent Westerners know, it’s shopping malls.

As another aside, the emerging-market obsession with shopping malls is an interesting reminder that, while they drive a lot of innovation, to a great deal when they get wealthier, they just want to buy and build what we have.

Via Quartz.

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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