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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Developers Look to Entertain Shoppers

As developers prepare to build 200 shopping centers across the country this year, they're not just making sure there are plenty of stores for shoppers to visit.

Instead, they are conscious that another aspect of the shopping-mall experience could lure more people to spend more: entertainment.

Oleg Voitsekhovsky, managing director of the Russian Council of Shopping Centers, said amusement facilities in a shopping mall could increase the number of visitors by 20 percent and that movie theaters and food courts increased traffic to malls by roughly the same amount.

But he also cautioned that the visitors to food courts and movie theaters were often youngsters who did not buy anything in the stores.

"Shopping malls have a synergy effect," he said by e-mail. "They provide vital traffic, which gives a serious advantage to the entertainment operators. Not only that, but not every operator is prepared to spend the money to maintain a separate building."

Polina Zhikina, a head consultant at Jones Lange LaSalle Russia, said that. aside from movie theaters and food courts, which are considered the top two entertainment anchors, arcades and bowling alleys were also popular.

"We have seen an increase in the size of movie theaters and food courts [in shopping centers] over the years," she said.

Although she said it was impossible to provide figures on how many people went to shopping centers strictly for these entertainment anchors, she said one figure spoke for itself: Between 60 and 70 percent of shoppers visit the food court while at the mall.

Last year, the RIO shopping center opened at Bolshaya Cheryomushkinskaya Ulitsa in the city's south, with 11 food-court restaurants and a cinema complex with six theaters and a seating capacity of 1,200.

The shopping centers planned for the future are to be strong on entertainment. For example, the Mytishchi Plaza retail and entertainment center slated to open by the end of 2006 in Mytishchi, northeast of Moscow, is to have a cinema and food court.

Voitsekhovsky said a shopping mall that was successful solely because of its entertainment venue was simply enjoying temporary success because the goal of a shopping mall was to sell goods, not provide entertainment.

He named Atrium, near Kursky Station, as one example of a successful shopping mall with entertainment. He also noted it was impossible to attribute a mall's failure to the entertainment options it provided.

A recent report released by commercial real estate services company Praedium said competition between retail complexes was increasing, and changing from quantitative to qualitative.

"Poorly thought-out shopping centers are facing the challenge of redesigning their concepts," the report says. "Clearly, creation of a competitive shopping center's concept becomes vital at the early stages."

Zhikina said it was not as important to have entertainment anchors at shopping malls in the city's center because the heavy pedestrian traffic in those areas was enough to get people to visit the malls.