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Development activity for shopping center space around the world continues t be focused in China. According to a Global Viewpoint from CBRE Research report, more than half of the shopping center space under construction in the 180 countries surveyed is taking place within China’s borders. The report indicated that Shanghai takes first position with 3.3 million sq. m. of space under construction—more than the combined total of all 86 European cities excluding those in Russia and Turkey. Just behind Shanghai is Chengdu with 3.2 million sq. m., followed by Shenzhen and Tianjin with 2.7 million sq. m. and 2.5 million sq. m. under construction.

“The scale of new development in Asia and China in particular is staggering but there are a number of quite understandable factors behind it. The most reported is economic growth, which continues, although now with some signs of slowing down. In addition, Chinese cities, and many others in Asia, present a physical environment that lends itself to environment controlled shopping centers. Outdoor shopping can be too hot, too humid, too cold, too wet, too unsafe or too dirty and polluted—modern shopping centers are none of these when managed properly,” said Sebastian Skiff, Executive Director of CBRE Retail.

“China cities, unlike their Western counterparts have far higher urban densities of people that rely on public transportation, and these populations are also relatively ‘new ‘. Chinese cities of today are not old in terms of large scale historical commercial architecture. Very few cities for example have an equivalent historical commercial area quite the same as must-keep streets like Regent Street in London or the Champs Elysee in Paris. There’s plenty of cultural architecture but very little of a commercial background,” Mr Skiff added.

“Add these factors together and you then have numerous opportunities to build new modern facilities right where the people are living, connected by mass public transport systems, unrestricted by what has gone before. This urban population do not drive to neighborhood shopping strips as they do in the West and therefore the best, most efficient, model for providing diversified shopping requirements under one roof in an environmentally controlled manner around a public transport hubs comes in the form of the shopping center,” said Mr Skiff.

According to another global report by CBRE, the worldwide shopping center development pipeline has continued to increase, reaching 41.9 million square meters in 2015, from 39 million square meters in 2014, and with Asian cities dominating all of the top ten most active global markets. Globally, a total of 39 million sq. m. of shopping center space is currently under construction across the world’s major cities, representing a three million sq. m. increase from 2013, according to the report.

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