At present, the Community of Madrid is the Spanish region with the most shopping centres per inhabitant, housing a large number of these comercial areas in its territory. Specifically, a total of 18 large shopping centres are located in the municipality of Madrid and 10 in the peripheral municipalities.
This type of commerce creates a great controversy, as well as a transformation of several regional aspects.
Some of them may be the economy or mobility, because sometimes they attract a large number of people, but others, on the contrary, the lack of public causes the closure and subsequent abandonment of these large surfaces. This is currently happening in the United States, a country that introduced the concept of shopping centre or mall, but which in just 2017 has seen 2,468 stores close. This is attributed to the boom in internet commerce, which has already reached a share of 3% of the market and the excessive supply of retail space.
However, the tendency to construct shopping centres in Spain is growing and this means a planning problem. In addition to compete with each other, they compete with local small businesses, so each time they appear or disappear some factors of the territory are altered. One of them is the public transport network, which is modified to access the mall without private transport. In addition, there may be an increase in the demand for housing in the area, as well as an increase in the price of housing. Finally, as is logical, a centre of these characteristics will have a huge environmental and visual impact, due to its construction and traffic in its accesses and links.
A clear example of this is the Islazul shopping centre, located at southwest of Madrid, which has an area of 90,000 m2, 180 shops and 4,100 parking spaces.
This shopping centre opened its doors in 2008, but since then it has generated many changes around it.
The opening of this shopping centre, in the neighbourhood of Carabanchel adjacent to the M-40 road, meant the closure of the M-40 shopping centre, located just 4 kilometres from the first and which reopened in 2017, looking for a place to be able to compete in the market through outlet shops. But this is not the only commercial area close to Islazul, within a radius of 4 kilometres we can find up to 5 similar areas.
This fact makes us wonder if all of them are really necessary or eventually some of them will be forced to disappear, as happened in the example above. Data points to this fact, because currently in Madrid the Gross Lettable Area is higher than consumption capacity and population.
The appearance of this shopping centre with its leisure and catering facilities has also promoted the change of lines 35 and 118 of the EMT buses of Madrid, which have modified their route after the construction of this centre, placing two stops in its vicinity. This represents a point in favour of public transport, because previously very few people could reach the centre if it was not in a private vehicle, but at the same time it represents an expense for the transport company without also entailing it for the promoter of the commercial surface, who benefits from it.
In addition, there is also a transformation in small shops of the area that will see their profit reduced and on the other hand increases the average distance travelled by the inhabitants of the area to go shopping, due to the fact that this mall is farther from the residential area. Therefore, there is a change in the mobility of the neighborhood by adding a great attraction center.
Another relevant aspect regarding the construction of the mentioned commercial area is the urban development of the area that has been promoted in part thanks to this trade. The area where it is located, the Carabanchel PAU, is a relatively new area (its construction plan was approved in 1990) being a practically residential land with few focuses that could attract people to live there. This impulse generated by the commercial centre can be appreciated since at present it is a very populated zone with flats that have a comparable value to the rest of the district and even higher because they have better facilities.
By means of this example we can observe the great influence that the construction of a shopping centre has on the territory and its inhabitants. However, with the tendency of the last years towards a more sustainable mobility and internet shopping this fact may vary in such a way that many of them disappear due to their little usefulness or difficult access by means of sustainable transport. On the contrary, these changes can also lead to a transformation towards a more suitable model. For example, including bicycle lanes for access or bicycle parks to help to maintainn shopping centres. This seems practically impossible for all the existing shopping centres, mainly due to their oversupply.
Author: Alba Bringas