Asia in middle of shopping mall revolution, China and India leads

SINGAPORE, July 12, 2006 (AFP) – China and India are leading a revolution in the shopping centre industry in Asia but investors must have the business acumen, stamina and money to navigate regional markets, industry players said Wednesday.

Driven by strong economic growth and rising disposable incomes, hundreds of shopping malls have sprouted across the region, many of them dwarfing their counterparts in the United States.

The increase in the number of real estate investment trusts (REITS) had also helped power the boom as it made financing easier, a conference on the industry heard.

The number of REITS in Asia outside Japan is currently at 39, up from only five in 2002.

The growth in the shopping mall industry is “too fast to be considered an evolution, it’s too widespread to be considered a mere growth spurt,” said Morgan Parker, the Hong Kong-based president of industry specialist Taubman Asia.

“Our industry continually demonstrated the carnage and chaos of what you see in a revolution. Our industry is tracking an economic trajectory in Asia that is simply unprecedented in modern history,” he told the conference.

Four shopping malls in China are now larger than the Mall of America in Minnesota which meas