Monday, February 4, 2013

Shopping Malls

Shopping Paulista - in the heart of the business district
Yes I am still alive. It turns out the process of moving an entire family to Brazil, getting settled, setting up and apartment, dealing with Brazilian bureaucracy and finalizing and starting school for the kids and getting myself settled that the university is a pretty long and exhausting job so please excuse my absence.

I did manage to get a pedantic blog post on mergers and anti-trust on the beer blog which is pretty straight econ - so go and have a look if you are having withdrawals - and I managed a few tweets.

Today I'll make a less than spectacular return to blogging my mentioning something from the local paper. [One of two thriving print dailies in São Paulo, by the way, maybe budding reporters in the US should consider a change of hemisphere!  It is nice to have a big fat paper to read through every morning, though a sad reminder of how much we have lost with our local paper fading into a 5 minute read...but I digress]  The Folha de São Paulo reported over the weekend on the flood of new shopping centers being built in SP, 19 over the next two years.  What was interesting to me was the figures they cite that 60% of all retail transactions in the US happen in shopping malls, whereas the figure for Brazil is only 19%.  The latter doesn't surprise me but the US figure, while not really surprising when you stop and this took me aback a little when I saw it.

So here are a few random thoughts:

In a place like São Paulo, where transit is a nightmare, parking difficult and safety an issue, the rise of the shopping mall makes a lot of sense.  With the booming economy, the growing middle class and the increased consumer culture it might be sad but perhaps inevitable that shopping malls would come to dominate the landscape like they do in the US.

Though I am no expert, though they certainly exist in Europe, I do not remember them creeping their way into central cities - my experience in seeing them is mostly on the periphery.  But in SP, they are in both the central districts as well as the periphery

Shopping malls lack romance, but I wonder how to feel about them ecologically.  They seem pretty darn efficient in general (though I am thinking of them in a partial equilibrium - that is I am taking the amount of consumerism as a given and not thinking about how malls may effect it).  

That is all for now, I'll try and keep up a reasonable stream of posts from here out.

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