Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 50

Photo: Kesko Oyj / Suomen Ilmakuva Oy Shopping centres are showing Versatility in Trying Times Shopping centres are searching for an identity that allows better integration into surrounding community. Of the available offering in shopping centres in Finland today, on average 27 % consists of services, such as cafés, restaurants, movie theatres and fitness centres. Furthermore, it is no longer rare to find public services such as health services or libraries inside a shopping centre. I n fact, this seems to be what the general public wants: a recent study by YouGov Finland shows that over half (60 %) of the Finnish population would like to see more public services at the shopping centres. More and more, shopping centres are perceived as local urban centres and public services seem like a natural addition in this setting. The shopping centres even feature spiritual elements: for example, Iso Omena (Espoo) and Columbus (Helsinki) have their own chapels. According to the October 2012 study, people from all over Finland welcomed public services in shopping centres, but the folks in the Greater Helsinki Region were the most eager to see this happen. Especially the elderly are keen on accessible public services: as much as 71 % of the senior citizens would like to take care of their public services related errands while visiting a shopping centre. 48 Nordicum “In this manner, very versatile ‘beating hearts’ for the community are created, making it possible for efficient traffic systems to be constructed. As the services improve, also the appeal of the areas – with regards to housing and jobs – increases and a positive development cycle is launched,” Vakula comments. The Grey Revolution All in the Mix Juha Tiuraniemi, the Managing Director for Finnish Council of Shopping Centers, points out that the numbers of the elderly are growing – and that they insist on service that is more diverse and quality-oriented than previously. “A shopping centre is a natural place of service, since they are well connected to the area. It is easy to go to a shopping centre and the movement inside is safe and unobstructed,” he says. The heavy-user crowd – who go to a shopping centre at least a few times a week – are most enthusiastic about the introduction of public services, but also those Finns who very rarely visit the centres wouldn’t mind public services there. Jukka Vakula, Chairman of the Finnish Council of Shopping Centers, says that everybody benefits in a scenario where services are concentrated in locations where there are a lot of people to begin with. It is clear from the study that the shopping centre is quite enduring as a service concept: services are found under the same roof and they are conveniently accessible. The business mix changes constantly according to customer needs. Business proprietors are able to operate ecologically and in a socially responsible way, at the same time gaining from the advantages of the mix. The public space in shopping centres is also finding more frequent and increasingly diverse uses for promotions, events and participatory functions. The role of shopping centres as living rooms and meeting places for people is recognised the world over. Shopping centres have also shown their toughness in a challenging business environment. The economy has been murky for years now, but the October shopping centre barometer by the Finnish Council of Shopping Centers shows sales are up. Ac-