Shopping mall boom shows no sign of slowdown

Love them or hate them, shopping centres have become very much a fixture of the Czech landscape. If you think there are already too many, get ready for even more. According to a new survey thirteen new malls will be built here by the end of 2007.

The Czech Republic currently has around 40 large or medium-sized shopping malls, placing the country 14th in the shopping centre European rankings. But the Czechs could rise even further up the scale. According to new survey by consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield, thirteen more will be built by the end of 2007, bringing the Czech Republic closer to the EU average. Martin Zizala is from Cushman & Wakefield's Prague branch.

"What's driving it is basically customer demand. There's still large demand for shopping generally from the public, and developers are well aware of that and are constructing and building new shopping centres as a result of that."

The usual criticism aimed at shopping centres is that they kill off local businesses. In the Czech Republic, shopping centre developers are gradually moving in to the city centre. Martin Zizala says that is good news for small businesses.

"In the past there's been a lot of shopping centres on the outskirts of towns, purely because it was easier. Now what we see is a return back to the high street, so shopping centres actually being built in the city centres of towns, which should indeed support not only the growth of city centres, but also the local businesses in the city centre."

So thirteen more shopping centres to be built in the country by the end of 2007, and many analysts believe the Czech retail market can absorb even more.