The world's biggest mall is in Asia but it might as well be the world's emptiest, with almost 40 per cent of it remaining empty since it opened in 2005.
The New South China Mall with 892,000 square metres total area in Dongguan, Guangdong province, was built by noodle tycoon and Dongguan native Alex Hu Guirong. It was later sold to the Founders Group, a conglomerate set up by Peking University. When it was re-launched in 2007, it was renamed New South China Mall, Living City.
Not surprisingly, China with its 1.35-billion population and growing economic clout in the world has many big malls, including Beijing’s Golden Resources Mall (557,419sqm total area), the second-biggest and nicknamed the “Great Mall of China”.
In Japan, the biggest mall is Aeon Lake Town in Saitama (393,916sqm), owned by Aeon Co, Asia’s largest retailer. Aeon has also expanded to Southeast Asia with the opening of a shopping mall in Phnom Penh this past Monday. Aeon Co plans to have more than 10 shopping centres in Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia within the next three years.
Three of the world’s top 10 shopping malls, in terms of leasable area, are in the Philippines, and all three are owned and operated by SM Prime Holdings of Chinese-Filipino tycoon Henry Sy.
SM Prime Holdings operates 45 malls across the Philippines, with branches in China, with total gross floor area of nearly 5 million square metres. The three SM malls in the world’s top 10 list – SM Megamall in Mandaluyong city in Metro Manila, SM City North Edsa in Quezon City, and the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City – account for about 1.4 million square metres in floor area.
A far second to the SM Group in this category in the Philippines is the Ayala Malls owned by one of the country’s biggest business conglomerates, the Ayala Group. It has 14 shopping malls nationwide. Following these two are the Robinsons Malls, the Walter Mart malls, Gaisano malls, Ever Gotesco Malls and Isetann, among others.
Meanwhile, Singapore has billed itself as a regional shopping hub with a high concentration of malls in the land-scrapped country. On its busy shopping street Orchard Road alone are nine huge shopping malls – Paragon, Far East Plaza, The Heaven, Ngee Ann City (Takashimaya), Knightsbridge, 313@sommerset, Ion Orchard, Tangs Orchard and Orchard Central, out of the total number of 29 malls in the city-state. These shopping malls bring in the tourist dollars during the annual “Great Singapore Sale” held in June and July.
With four malls on the list of the top 16 biggest in the world, Malaysia is a shopping haven, with most of them found in the capital Kuala Lumpur and satellite city Petaling Jaya. The fifth-largest shopping mall in the world, 1 Utama, is in an affluent suburb in Petaling Jaya. It was built on the “mall within a mall” concept comprising two wings housing four department stores as well as two cinemas and various flagship stores, luxury and local brands included.