Turkey’s shopping center passion continues

Turkey’s shopping center passion continues

Turkey is second after Russia in Europe in terms of space allocated for newly opened shopping malls. Even though it is in 30th place in the list for space per capita, the situation is different in investments.

The most important sector that has its mark in Turkey’s 10-year economic development period is no doubt real estate. Not only are investments for housing a distinctive feature of this era, but also the rush to building shopping centers has come along. 

Even the most interesting protests in Turkey’s political history, Gezi, were caused by a mall project that would have been built at the center of Taksim after cutting down the trees.

For a while, we did not hear about new shopping center projects. The most recent mall to have been opened in Istanbul is the AVM Zorlu Center. But even though it looks as if the number of mall projects is decreasing; actually it is not. The number of completed or continuing projects shows that the passion for malls is continuing at full speed. Cushman & Wakefield is a global real estate service firm.
In its European Shopping Center Development Report for the second quarter of 2013, Turkey and Russia account for almost half of the total space of all the malls opened in Europe in the first half of 2013.

According to the report, in the 2013-2014 period, Turkey is the market, after Russia, that has developed, built and completed the highest number of mall projects in Europe. Figures from the report are as follows: 

- In Europe there is a total of approximately 150 million square meters gross rentable space, to which approximately 1.8 million square meters of new space have been added. 

- In the first six months of 2013, Turkey completed 422,500 square meters of gross rentable space, ranking second in this area. 

However, in the analysis conducted according to the report, Turkey still has a long way to go in the field of mall space per thousand people. Turkey has 109.6 square meters of mall space per 1,000 people, putting Turkey in 30th place in Europe. 

This shows that there is still potential. However, the general manager of Cushman & Wakefield Turkey, Toğrul Gönden, has important warnings. 

Shopping centers are looking more and more alike, Gönden said, adding that visitors mostly consider location when choosing which mall to go to. He emphasizes the need to diversify.

Buying habits have gone through a very serious change and transformation with the Internet age, according to Gönden.

I strolled through the most recently opened shopping center, Zorlu AVM, the other day. I could not see anything different; the same brands, similar restaurants. 

Really, something new has to be said now; otherwise it would mean doing nothing but burying scarce resources into the ground. 

Jale Özgentürk is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published on Nov. 28. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.