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Worlds Largest And Loneliest Mall China

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.
South China Mall
Abandoned: The New South China Mall is the largest in the world, with space for 1,500 stores, but has less than 12 shops

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.

South China Mall
Eerie: Shop workers walk underneath a 550m rollercoaster in the deserted amusement centre

South China Mall
Vast: A man on a tricycle passes a Russian-styled triumphal arch at the 9.6million sq ft shopping centre

South China Mall
Attraction: A bored attendant makes a phone call next to the ghost train ride at the mall

David Hand, a retail analyst at Jones LaSalle in Beijing, said: 'They set out to the be the biggest, and hoped that being the biggest would be the attracting factor.

'It hasn't delivered.

'The Chinese love shopping, they love brands, and they love international products, even though the average income is low.

'New shoppers are born everyday. We won't run out of them.'
South China Mall

South China Mall
Run down: The mall sign stands unlit and, right, an abandoned gondola on the mock Venetian canal

South China Mall
Continental: The mall also features a Venetian canal, replica of the Arc de Triomphe, downtown San Francisco and themes from Las Vegas

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.

Dick Groves, a retail consultant based in Hong Kong, said the failure of the New South China Mall was down to inexperience in leasing business and an undisciplined financial system.

'When it's easy to get financing without having to convince someone of the project's feasability, and without having to show pre-leasing commitment, you can start to get into trouble,' he told The National.

South China Mall
Failure: Only Western fast food restuarants have survived at the mall's entrance

South China Mall
Fun fair: A family look at a pirate ship ride in the mall's amusement centre, which does attract some visitors

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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