19 October, Il Sole 24 Ore
Consumptions are not recovering due to the economic crisis not definitely over and the increasingly harsher competition, these are the two factors that shopping centres have to face in this last part of 2017.
With these conditions, is still worth building new shopping centres? In Italy, 25 new shopping centres and retail parks are coming up and there are six big requalification projects of existing shopping centres under construction or in the process to be started.
If the new is advancing the old has to adjust and find new ideas to attract 4-6 million people that everyday visit shopping centres. There are shopping centres in Italy that can attract 10-14 million people throughout a year, with a dynamic offer that changes according to consumers’ needs.
The debate regards the opening of new shopping centres while the old ones have closed, and some others have proved to not be up to date with the current standards. To be honest, the density of shopping centres in Italy is lower than the European average and even lower than that registered in the United States. According to the figures for the first semester of 2017, across the country, there are 208 thousand Sq m every one thousands of citizens (for shopping centres above 10 thousand Sq m), in France 212 Sq m, in Spain 310 Sq m, in Uk 254 Sq m, in Portugal 274 Sq m. These values are higher in Northern Europe with 341 Sq m in Ireland, 377 in Finland, till the record of Estonia with 570 Sq m. By the end of the year, other 125 thousand Sq m Gla will come to Italy.
There have been few closures, that the experts of the industry call physiological. In some cases, it was due to the wrong location, in some others it was due structural problems such as limited accessibility, in others, the catchment area turned out to be scarce. It’s true, however, that there are many minor shopping centres that are suffering.
Among the operations coming soon, there is the one concerning the shopping centre in Antegnate (Bergamo) that was included in the portfolio of the fund Immoselect of Axa, the portfolio was acquired at the time by Blackstone that excluded though Antegnate. According to rumours, the asset received very low offers from investors that may reconvert the structure.
The shopping centre Le Acciaierie in Cortenuova also closed in 2014 and it struggles to find a new function. Some other centres of smaller dimensions closed as well.
The experts of the industry stress how today the focus is rather in the requalification and the reorganization of the existing properties or, even in the case of new openings, the recovery of existing structures already built, or abandoned factories, and so on. Therefore, those suffering the most are the shopping centres that have to compete with new and innovative centres. This is true for the structures that have to compete with Il Centro di Arese or those close to Westfield when this will open. Westfield itself will be a problem also for the major shopping centres.
Source: Il Sole 24 Ore
Translator: Cristina Ambrosi