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South China Mall - World's Largest Retail Mall Featured

07 November 2009
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World's Largest Retail Mall

New South China Mall - It was trumpeted as the world's largest retail mall, with shoppers able to browse through 1,500 stores, take a stroll along a mock Venetian canal or even have lunch in front of an 85ft replica of the Arc de Triomphe. But the New South China Mall, which opened in 2005, stands empty with 99 per cent of its shops having remained unleased and attractions including a 553-metre indoor and outdoor roller coaster standing idle.

It was designed to attract an average of more than 70,000 visitors a day to the city of Dongguan, but has less than a dozen shops in its 9.6million sq ft of floor space. Just before it opened the mall, which is located in China's southern Pearl River Delta, it was heralded by the New York Times as part of 'China's astonishing new consumer culture'.

The mall's developer, Hu Guirong, sent a team travelling around the world for two years in search of ideas. It features seven zones modelled on different parts of the world, including a replica of the bell tower of St Mark's Square in Venice, as well and area dedicated to downtown San Francisco.

China has been hit hard by the global recession, and the city of Dongguan is known for its popularity with low-paid factory workers. The only occupied areas of the mall are near the entrance, where several Western fast food chains sell burgers next to an abandoned go-kart track. Around 500 new malls have been built in China over the last five years. All of them are said to be waiting for the arrival of the middle class, with China the largest growing economy in the world before the recent global recession.

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