Globalism - the Explosion of Siberian Malls

Siberian%20Ikea.jpgThe impact of globalism is obvious when considering the mega development of malls occurring across Russia. Yes Russia; and not just any place in the former USSR. Siberia, where Russians waited in long lines to buy food with ration cards not long ago, is experiencing a huge mall boom. Russia is projected to open twice as much mall space as any other European country this year, and Europe will open more shopping centers this year than ever. As retail businesses shrink in the United States, provincial Russian towns have become targets of retailers and shopping center developers from around the world. Malls in this area of the world are even poaching managers from as far away as California.

Across the great expanse of Russia, on plots cleared of birch groves and decrepit factories, on the territory of old airports and collective farms, big-box stores are rising at a rate of several a month.  While malls are nothing new in Moscow; 38 malls are planned to open before 2010. In a sign of how trickle-down petroleum money appeals to retailers, at a time of record oil prices, Russian developers opened over 4.6 million square meters, or 49 million square feet, of retail space in shopping centers in the second half of 2007 and so far in 2008, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate company. That is more than double the new shopping center area planned in Poland, the European country with the second-largest pipeline of malls in development.

Developers are turning to the 12 provincial cities in Russia with populations over one million, islands of prosperity with population inflows from rural migration and rising purchasing power, ripe for malls. This retail strategy is known here as the “millions,” and is embraced by leading Western retailers including Ikea and Auchan, the French food chain.