China’s Mega Malls: A Cautionary Tale of the Importance of Location.

In 2005 a new mall was opened in the Guangdong province of China. With over 659,612 square metres of leasable space, 2.1 km of boating canals and 8000 car parks, it is easily the biggest mall in China. In fact, by size it’s the biggest in the world.

But the New South China Mall is 99% empty.

Hoping to cash in on the ‘biggest’ concept, the mall was designed to stun – and stun it does, for all the wrong reasons.

The 550 metre indoor rollercoaster, the Teletubbies theme park and the go kart centre lie unused and dust covered. The replicas of world famous icons, the endless corridors, the glass fronted shops sit silent and forlorn; their paint peeling as they age, all because investors never considered the importance of location.

The mall is located in the city of Duongguan. An industrial city of 8.5 million, its population is mostly classified as poor – and the vast majority work 7 days a week. Luxury brands and joyrides are out of their grasp.

Xiao, a migrant who works as a cleaner in the mall says “people coming here to work in factories don’t have the time or the money for shopping or the rollercoaster.”

What’s more, the majority of the city doesn’t own a vehicle – they rely on public transport. The New South China Mall is not on any public transport routes.

Even if you were to drive there it would be difficult to locate – it is not convenient to any main highways. And the developers had high hopes of attracting more distant visitors, but there is no airport in Duongguan.

There are a few shops – KFC, McDonalds and other fast food outlets cluster around one entrance. However, the majority of the time they stand empty.

There is no other reason for this mall to be a ghost town apart from the location of it.

By contrast, the second largest mall in the world, The Golden Resources Mall (also in China – but in the far more profitable city of Beijing) is beside a busy ring road and easily accessible by public transport. 
The numbers speak loudly: It has over 1100 stores in operation, compared to the New South China Mall’s 47.

Remember ‘If you build it they will come’ doesn’t always hold true.  If you build your business in an area that your target customers frequent and spend money already you are much much more likely to succeed.

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