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China Dominates Global Shopping Mall Growth

When Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced on Sunday that the debt-addled nation’s banks would shut for six days, it had an immediate knock-on effect on Asian markets, particularly China, which sunk amid worry that Greece would be forced to exit the eurozone.

But a cooling Chinese economy still offers some bright spots: Despite a weak property market, a rising middle class with more disposable income and an ever-increasing appetite for fashion mean the mainland shopping-mall market continues to boom. In fact, a recent report from property advisor CBRE Group revealed that 44 percent of shopping centers completed in 171 of the world’s major cities last year were in China and it accounts for more than 60 percent of mall space under construction.

Shanghai, the country’s biggest city and a global financial hub, is the world’s busiest mall-construction hub, according to CBRE, with more than 44 million square feet of shopping-center space in various stages of development, followed by Shenzhen (36.6 million square feet) and Chengdu (32.3 million square feet), as the world’s second-largest economy shifts from manufacturing to higher-value services.

In terms of last year’s shopping-mall completions, Seoul in South Korea, Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur and Metro Manila in Philippines all feature among the top 10 cities worldwide. Moscow was the only city outside of China in the top five, while Istanbul ranked seventh, fueled by the easy availability of credit in the Turkish market which has spurred consumer spending.

“The factors driving the development pipeline of new space remains largely unchanged compared to last year in terms of location with new construction dominated by Asia and in particular China,” said Natasha Patel, CBRE’s EMEA Retail Research director, adding, “Other influences include a growing middle class population in emerging markets, the urbanization of large cities and a lack of high-quality retail space required by cross-border retailers.”

The U.S., however, barely got a look in: Las Vegas only placed nineteenth on the list of completed projects and New York came in at 30.

As Patel explained, “Western Europe and the U.S. continue to suffer from a lack of new development and extensions and refurbishments of existing centers will be a key focus in a bid to attract key retailers and consumers.”