Bulgaria has the smallest ratio between space in modern retail centres and population size of any European country, according to the latest report from UK-based Jones Lang LaSalle consultancy company, published on the webpage of the International Council of Shopping Centers – ICSC.
There is a 30-fold difference between Sweden, which heads the listing, and Bulgaria. The figures would seem to favour the growth of future such development in Bulgaria.
The average figure for Europe is 170-180, i.e. there are 170-180 sq m of modern retail space per 1,000 people. This ratio stands at 420-430 sq m in Sweden, or, in other words, every 1,000 Swedish citizens enjoy 420-430 sq m of high-end commercial areas. The respective index for Bulgaria is 15 sq m/1,000 people. By comparison, the ratio in Czech Republic is 170-180 and in Romania – 20 sq m/1,000 people.
However, analysts should bear in mind the purchasing power, consumer behaviour and traditions of the population. Other factors like average salary should also be considered.
The Bulgarian market embraced the idea of retail centres and malls more than a year ago, when Sofia saw the opening of the first commercial-entertainment malls. Currently, such establishments are functioning in Varna and Veliko Turnovo and there are plans for many more.
A number of malls are under construction in Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv. But investor interest is straying towards smaller towns as well – Pleven, Stara Zagora, Rousse and others.
Some investment projects merely follow new fads and not a viable business plan, Strahil Ivanov, the general manager of Yavlena real estate agency, said in a recent media statement.
Specialists tend to expect a slight retail space market development this year because many projects are still not completed. Most of them are slated for 2009.