15 August 2007

The Mall Phenomenon...

Having lived in Indonesia for a good many years it has been with amazement that I have watched the rapid expansion of the number of malls and by extension shopping venues and space available to regular Jakartans...Yet, the phenomenon does not seem to be restricted to Indonesia. Recent visits to Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia have shown that they are no slackers on this front either. Singapore in its defense has always been a shopping mecca but with the emergence of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and other cities in between this mecca status is slowly but surely being eroded by these other upstarts.

A recent personal survey of mall possibilities in Jakarta highlighted the tough decision on where to go or where to start the mall crawl, a more social version of that great Australian past time of the pub crawl! It was determined that even in a month of Sundays it might not be possible to take in all of the shopping possibilities in Jakarta and the surrounding satellite cities of Tangerang, Bekasi, Bogor, and the not so far away Bandung.

As a social comment, who said there was a financial crisis in Indonesia? The disposable income of the upper middle class and the elite have returned to all intents and purposes pre-financial crises levels. This might not be borne out by financial statistics or data from the central bank or other institutions but a non-scientific approach of wandering around a mall or two looking at the trade being done in the big and exclusive brand shops like Gucci, Versace, Chanel, and the like would suggest that there is plenty of money around. In terms of official data it might be interesting to look at savings levels and see whether Indonesians are saving or just simply spending. Even more interesting would be the credit card debt levels...

But back to the phenomenon...there is so much underutilized shopping space that it beggars belief how future shopping developments could be justified either from a financial or spatial planning perspective. Yet, there are plans for even more shopping space...beats the hell out of me!!!

I will endeavor to find the relevant data and update this post over the next couple of days....