By Antonis Loizou FRICS
IT IS interesting to record the change in the shopping habits of the Cypriot consumer. Initially the corner grocer was replaced by larger shops and then the latter by very large supermarkets. The very large supermarkets, that offer other products besides food, are now experiencing a change. Shoppers cannot be bothered to spend hours in a supermarket trying to find where everything is and the small supermarket of around 1,000m² is taking over and Lidl’s success (around 1,500m²) is a case in hand. Place the supermarket in the centre of the plot surrounded by parking and keep the shop to one storey. This ‘sudden discovery’ is evident in the profitability of such projects.
The relatively new (for Cyprus) idea of shopping centres (malls) seems to have caught on after some projects were developed in the past of doubtful initial performance. Modern shopping centers (malls) attract families who make an afternoon/day of shopping, but more importantly the controlled environment and the security offered to children is a major attraction to the high (and not so) Cypriot spenders, who are non other than the teenagers (parents’ money). Fashion outlets appear to be a must in such ventures, as are the food chains and cinemas. The Nicosia (Mall of Cyprus) and Limassol (My Mall) centres both seem to be improving in terms of visitor numbers (including new foreign residents and Turkish Cypriots) and spending. Recent evidence of success in Nicosia is reflected in rentail charges, which have risen from €38/m² four years ago to €70m².
Of course the success of one shopping facility causes damage to another. High street shops are on a downward scale with very limited types of products suitable, such as car sales, home furniture and high street cafés. Rents on Nicosia and Limassol shopping streets are now much lower than those in the malls.
A further shopping mall under construction in Nicosia’s Lakatamia. DIY shops also seem to be springing up everywhere whereas Clearance Shopping is becoming routine with most attractive prices.
Examining foreign consultants’ reports it appears that certain brands are a must in shopping malls, helping towards their success and in addition to this, the mix of uses plays also its role. Zara appears to be the main brand for Cyprus provided it is so accompanied by other similar brands. Food stores are an attraction, but exceeding the demand that it was originally thought, as well as entertainment, such as cinemas, bowling, skating etc.
At the end of the day we wonder how many shoppers are around and how many are the cinema goers? If we are to take the Nicosia region there are approximately 20 cinema screens plus another five or six pending. In addition, the numerous supermarkets of various sizes and several DIY shops one wonders where are these shoppers coming from and do they have the financial muscle that they used to a few years ago and how many small shop keepers are destined to close down within the next few years?