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Inside China's Malls

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For a closer look at China's sizzling economy, walk the marble floors of Beijing's latest luxury mall. From its Japanese-style food court selling $4 chocolate éclairs to its glittering floors of branded international fashion, Shin Kong Place is a palace of conspicuous consumption.

The only thing missing, on a sizzling summer afternoon, was customers. Sales staff idled at display racks as a trickle of young visitors looped around the frigid mall. Most were content to window-shop, dreaming of the day when they could afford to drop $100 on a tassled tote bag. "These prices are too expensive. People can't afford it," says Xu Tao, a car repairman who was visiting with his girlfriend.

As investors continue to pour money into malls, analysts say the signs of a real estate bubble are growing, as are predictions that some retailers may be heading for trouble. Empty malls are just one indicator of an overheating economy – growing at its fastest clip in over a decade – that is proving hard to cool.

More here.

For our take, check Inside the Chinese Box, from our May issue.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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