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Allan Saunderson is managing editor of Property Finance Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

PRAGUE-Next year will see the lowest level of European shopping center development for five years, with only seven million square meters of new space due to open, says realtor Cushman & Wakefield. The full impact of the recession is likely to be most felt in 2011 however, when only five million square meters of space will open across Europe, the lowest figure since 2003.

The largest amount of new shopping center space was added in the first six months of 2009 in Russia, at 580,000 square meters according to C & W’s European Shopping Centre Development report. Turkey and Russia still top the league table of malls in the pipeline to end-2010, with around two million square meters and 1.8 million square meters respectively. Russia saw a 23% increase in total mall provision, with 1.65 million square meters of new space. France has the largest pipeline in western Europe, followed by Turkey, UK, Spain and Romania. In percentage terms, Bulgaria and Romania experienced by far the largest increases in new malls, at 76% and 63% growth respectively.

C&W said that 2009 will see around 8.7 million square meters of new space open – a decline of 5% on 2008. In the first six months, 3.1 million square meters in 115 new shopping centers opened in Europe, 18% less than the same period in 2008. Italy recorded the highest amount of new space, with 18 new centers adding just over 370,000 square meters to the market.

The Czech Republic, which recorded over 46,500 square meters of new shopping center space – followed by Slovakia with 33,000 square meters. Prague Research Head Alexander Rafajlovič commented : “The supply of new centers in the Czech Republic shows a gradually declining tendency which is unlikely to change by 2011. Schemes which have not started construction by this time are very unlikely to open in 2010 and developers who have postponed their projects several times . . .will find it even more difficult to persuade tenants in the future.”

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