Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2015 - Page 41

other hand, it has been observed that public services, such as libraries, are a pretty good addition to a shopping centre. Shopping Around the World A quick trip around the world tells us that retail is being reinvented everywhere. In Japan, the Aeon Mall complex at Makuhari New City caters to pet lovers, providing e.g. a pet hotel and a pet store. In New Zealand, an entire shopping centre was built out of shipping containers. The Beach in Dubai combines shopping, the sea and an outdoor cinema; the Siam Paragon Mall in Thailand includes language schools, a cooking school and an aquarium. Yet everything pretty much pales in comparison to Mall of the World, also located in Dubai. This ongoing project will integrate the largest shopping mall in the world with the largest indoor theme park in the world. Additional districts within the project will include a wellness-dedicated for medical tourists, a “cultural celebration district” as well as a wide range of hospitality options comprising 20,000 hotel rooms catering to all types of tourists. Once completed, the Mall of the World is projected to become a year-round destination, welcoming around 180 million visitors annually. Restoring Balance Whether you do your shopping in a warm or cold climate, it is clear that non-traditional tenants have elevated the occupancy rates at shopping centres and also help consum- ers combine trips to one destination. Still, the threat of internet looms over retail. Even the legendary Stockmann department store – located in the very heart of Helsinki downtown – has fallen on hard times, because people may visit the store to try on some clothes, but once they’ve decided on the size and colour, they go online to make the actual purchase. The balance between a virtual and a physical store is off, and conventional retail operations are paying the price. Still, not everything is lost: according to a recent Accenture report, a growing number of US shoppers plan to make purchases at bricksand-mortar stores, but they want the experience to be more convenient. This means, for example, that 19 percent of consumers surveyed said they are reserving items instore or are buying them online for in-store pickup, while 14 percent are buying at the store and having the item shipped to them. Redefining Roles Using physical stores more as distribution centres is a novel idea that could have deeper implications for retailers’ profitability – it is possible that this, indeed, is the road to better inventory management, fewer markdowns and higher margins, but it’s too early in the game to know for sure. While virtual stores can fit the whole world in a website, shopping centres have walls, floors and ceilings – physical (and costly) limitations. However, now it seems that one handicap is about to be eliminated. While previously, modifications of retail space were difficult to carry out, there are more flexible concepts being developed all the time. In Finland, for instance, the steel manufacturer Ruukki has championed a new way of building that allows for space to be modified and upgraded in tune with the chang