When it comes to grandeur and over-the-top establishments, the biggest shopping malls in the world are relentless in providing top-notch customer experiences mixed with awe and luxury. We are talking about expansive spaces that merge the retail industry with consumers all over the world, entertainment hubs for that mix of leisure, and a splendid architectural accomplishment all in one. In this article, we take you through the biggest malls in the world right now and how technology plays a role in the whole shopping experience.
Top 10 Rankings Shopping Malls
1. New South China Mall
The New South China Mall is located in Dongguan, China, and holds the distinction of being the world's largest mall in terms of gross leasable area. It has an expansive 6.46 million sq ft retail space, equivalent to 2300 stores. Each zone in the mall mirrors international cities and features landmarks such as a replica of the Arc de Triomphe. Despite its grandeur, over 99% of the stores remained vacant since its opening in 2005. However, extensive renovation and remodeling efforts increased the occupancy rate to 91% in 2020.
2. Starfield Coex Mall
Starfield COEX Mall, formerly COEX Mall, is an underground shopping destination in Seoul, South Korea. Situated in Samseong-dong, it spans approximately 154,000 square meters, with 144,000 square meters dedicated to a single underground floor, making it the world's largest underground shopping mall. It has over 250 business units, with diverse offerings, including two food courts, MegaBox cinema, COEX Aquarium, and a sizable bookstore. The Starfield Coex Mall's entertainment and shopping attractions have gained recognition, making it a prominent destination in Seoul.
3. Golden Resources Mall
Opened in 2004, the Golden Resources Mall in Beijing was once the world’s biggest shopping mall until 2005, with a vast 6.0 million sq ft of space across six floors. Early on, the mall faced difficulties due to its location and the high price of goods. Things changed in 2012 when the Beijing Subway station opened, making the mall more accessible. By 2022, with more people in the area and a growing middle class, the mall has gotten busier, especially on weekends.
4. SM Megamall (Philippines)
Located in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines, SM Megamall has a vast floor area of 474,000 square meters (5.1 million sq ft), earning its place as the third-largest shopping mall in the country and the thirteenth largest worldwide. It has a daily visitor count of 800,000 people and houses 968 shops across five distinct buildings. Beyond shopping, SM Megamall caters to over 200 dining options, a bowling alley, a skating rink, and an arcade.
5. The West Edmonton Mall
The West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada opened on September 15, 1981, and has a gross floor area of 5.3 million square feet (493,000 m2) and a gross leasable area of 3.77 million sq ft (350,00 m2). Developed in four phases from 1981 to 1999, it hosts over 800 stores, two hotels, more than 100 dining venues, and nine unique attractions. The mall has a parking capacity of over 20, 000 vehicles and receives over 32 million visitors annually. The color-coded system, corresponding with the four phases of its construction aids in navigation and the overall shopping experience.
6. Dubai Mall
Since its opening in 2008, The Dubai Mall has been renowned for its extravagance and grandeur. With a gross floor area of 12 million sq ft, it's one of the largest shopping malls in the world. Housing over 1,200 shops, the mall also features a colossal aquarium, an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink, a virtual reality park, an indoor theme park, and the world's largest candy store. The Dubai Mall has gained popularity for its innovative design and forward-thinking planning, which seamlessly connects it to the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
7. Sunway Pyramid Mall
Established in July 1997 and expanded in 2007 and 2015, the Sunway Pyramid Mall stands as Malaysia's first themed shopping and lifestyle destination, covering over four million sq. ft. It draws inspiration from Ancient Egypt in its architectural style by featuring a significant Sphinx and two prominent atriums. It has a diverse shopping area adorned with hieroglyphs and art which contribute to a comprehensive shopping experience. It houses around 700 specialty outlets and is still a distinguished destination for visitors worldwide.
8. Istanbul Cevahir
Considered one of Europe's largest shopping malls Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre opened in 2005. It spans over 5 million sq ft across six floors and houses over 200 brands, making it a significant player in Turkey's organized retail industry. It’s strategically positioned in Istanbul and features renowned national and international brands such as Decathlon, Zara, LCW, and Marks & Spencer. Beyond the shopping experience, visitors can enjoy 12 cinema screens, an indoor roller coaster, and a variety of dining options.
9. Berjaya Times Square
The 48-storey complex of Berjaya Times Square stands in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is a twin tower structure opened in 2006 which houses a hotel, condominium, indoor amusement park, and shopping center. With a gross leasable area of 3.44 million sq ft (320,000 m2) and a total built-up floor area of 7.5 million sq ft (700,000 m2), it is the tenth largest building on a global scale. The complex includes a 19-storey shopping mall, business offices, a leisure center, and over 1,000 retail shops, as well as the Berjaya Times Square Theme Park.
10. Iran Mall in Tehran, Iran
Right now, the Iran Mall holds the title of being the biggest mall in the world based on its total ground coverage area. It already has an expanse of 14.5 million sq ft (1.35 million m2) in its first phase of construction. It has an impressive gross leasable area of 3.23 million sq ft (300,000 m2) and transcends the conventional retail space by offering a multi-use oasis with gardens, cultural collections, and a colossal library that occupies three floors and houses over 45,000 volumes of books, manuscripts, and historical documents. The statues within the library pay homage to three influential figures in Persian history, adding a touch of cultural richness to the complex.
Impact on the Shopping Experience
Convenience and Accessibility
Designers create the biggest shopping malls with a customer-centric approach to achieve convenience and accessibility. This is how they achieve this:
- Collaborating with local transportation for shuttle services and parking facilities to enable accessibility.
- Incorporating clear signage, well-defined directories, and efficient pathways for easy navigation.
- Utilizing apps and digital platforms for real-time information and navigation assistance.
- Offering a variety of stores and services, making them a comprehensive shopping destination.
Tech and Retailtainment Blend
The biggest shopping malls leverage retail digital signage to enhance various aspects of retailtainment. Engaging product demos, showcased on vibrant screens, bring the shopping experience to life and encourage customers to explore and interact with products.
Interactive displays and workshops hosted on digital platforms educate customers about products and brands in an entertaining manner.
- Wayfinding Evolution
Visitors use wayfinding signage in expansive malls to ensure they don't get lost. In Coex Mall, for instance, the mall strategically positions interactive screens in different areas to aid visitors with navigation or finding a specific store.
- Information Kiosks Impact
Information kiosks in malls enable consumers to access details on product pricing, availability, and feature comparisons, all in a one-on-one setting. The user-friendly nature of kiosks enhances the overall shopping experience, especially when positioned near display shelves.
Experiential Digital Signage Trends
- Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) is enhancing immersive retail experiences by allowing customers in malls to interact with and explore products virtually.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is personalizing digital signage content in malls based on factors like location, time, and customer behavior leading to more relevant information for consumers.
- Integration with other technologies such as mobile devices and social media is bridging the gap between physical and digital channels.
- Analytics tools are being used to understand customer preferences and behaviors within malls leading to more informed decisions on content strategy.
The biggest shopping malls are changing the way we experience and interact with brands by providing a central hub for consumers and retailers to engage. This, enabled by digital signage makes the experience memorable and enjoyable for consumers. They get to navigate through the mall with ease, interact with products in an immersive way, and get product and brand information more easily than ever before.