Source: eKapija | Monday, 26.06.2023.| 13:10
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Rebec 2023: Cafes Are New Offices, Robots Replacing Generation Z – How Coronavirus Affected Shopping Malls

Illustration (Photo: Radu Bercan/
The crises that the world has gone through in the past few years have led to a change in the habits and emotions of people and thereby affected numerous activities, including the real estate market. The coronavirus has changed our expectations, and the circumstances have changed accordingly, it was said at the panel dedicated to real estate development when it comes to shopping centers within this year’s Rebec 2023 conference.

According to Ortac Ozortac of the Turkish company WE Consult, the strong earthquake that struck the country and the election that happened not long afterward, have had a large impact on the real estate market as well.

Our market is coping with high inflation. In Turkey, we have 453 shopping malls, for whose visitors, until recently, the most important things were shopping, food and enjoyment as an experience. We are reviving the segments of food, enjoyment and the very experience at these facilities. After the coronavirus, we have noticed changes in the demands of the market, which we are trying to understand and utilize in order to be able to continue being “one of the players in the market” – he said.

As he pointed out, the coronavirus has made us not being able to meet other people for a longer time period. We spent time online, which has led to some new emotions, such as the increased need for shared time, shared meals and a return to the offices.

– The Turkish culture has a specific approach to food. People want to have lunch together and what we’ve noticed in the past 5 years is that more room has been provided for the food industry within the real estate market – Ozortac pointed out.

As he added, there is an increasing percentage of shopping malls whose certain parts are dedicated to food and enjoyment exclusively.

– We have an example of a project in Skopje, where we made a gastronomic street within the shopping center. Everybody was surprised at the time, but it was a big step in that direction. I believe that, in these areas, gastronomy is moving in the right direction.

As he clarifies, they have learned that habits change and that our expectations have changed with them. That has affected shopping center, which, several years ago, were different.

Illustration (Photo: Pixabay / Engin_Akyurt )
– When we consider what has influenced those changes and whether it is the coronavirus, I believe that the coronavirus was only the trigger and that it has accelerated things in that field. Cafes have become offices and coworking spaces, so in that field as well, we can notice a certain market growth – he pointed out.

Gastronomic spaces, he says, now have the possibility of organizing entertainment shows, and they can also be used as spaces for some events. This, according to him, has turned out to be a very successful idea as well.

Within shopping malls, we now have spaces dedicated to entertainment only, which has influenced the development of whole families being loyal and going back to those spaces. There’s also the increase on the concept of entertainment within the shopping center, and we also have sports zones and the shopping center thereby gains value – Ozortac added.

What’s characteristic is that said changes have also affected the brands themselves, because they are also changing. They are now focused on experience and loyalty development.

– It no longer matters how many stores you have, but whether your shops are functional. These are the new aspects of brands. You have the example of some big brands such as Levi’s, which makes tailor-made clothes. Beymen has developed a system where, if you order goods from them, you get them in 2 hours. A man on a motorcycle returns the clothes if they don’t fit you when you try them out at home – he pointed out and added that, if you buy a brand, nowadays, you become a member of a certain crew.

As Ricardo Rodrigues of the German company Reify added, the coronavirus has accelerated things in retail.

– The concept has changed. Shopping is less in focus, whereas the very way you communicate, enjoy the space and the activities while shopping has taken primacy. What the period after the coronavirus has brought is that people are gathering together again and in the past few years, we have used this to implement food consumptions spaces in our facilities. Retail chains can reorient to places where people can socialize while consuming food – said Rodrigues and added that there was less and less space that had only food as the concept.

As he added, these spaces work all day, these are coworking spaces, very similar to offices, and the plan is for such spaces to be used for meetings.

– They will be used by children while they’re learning. And they will also be spaces for entertainment so that families would enjoy themselves. Food is no longer dominant. Instead, those spaces are used for multiple purposes. We have a project which changes compared to what was initially planned. Office space changes, because people want to stay and work from home, so in accordance with that, the project changes as well. People are saying to the market: “I am there, but I won’t do everything the same way all the time,” so then office spaces adapt to that as well – he clarified.

Observing things in Germany, most people don’t want to go back to offices and we need to get used to it.

The home office concept will persevere. Especially when it comes to younger generations. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody will be using it all the time, but it will persevere. In Lisbon, we have started advertising a space where one person can stay for an hour or two, where they have internet access and where they can have meetings. Hybrid work does not necessarily entail work from home, but from a café, restaurant, or similar spaces adapted to those needs. We have noticed that, even when we design houses, people want some space within them that would be a space for work, that is, an office, and that orientation in design is increasingly in demand – Rodrigues says.

As he added, the market needs to focus on the users and their needs and to develop several directions of communication with them. Just like brands should have developed online sales, but also stores where the purchaser can come and try out the clothes before buying them.

– That makes the job more difficult, but more interesting. This is the time which doesn’t tolerate set formulas and ways of solving problems. Those are easy solutions and now we have no time for that. What is constant is the adaptation to the changes – he concluded.

Illustration (Photo: Rostislav Glinsky/
What does the development of retail in a new and modern way look like?

Shopping centers are no longer just a space where you can do your shopping. Increasingly, they are becoming spaces for socializing, and the food experience has become an important factor in the development of shopping centers.

According to architect Enis Oncuoglu of Oncuoglu Architects, retail is a circulation of parking, goods, waste, visitors and many other factors.

If you manage to organize all that, there’s a great possibility you will succeed. In building a shopping center, the aim is to retain the dimensions, while using the space for more parking spaces, a better vehicle entrance etc. When you have a fourth floor in a shopping center, it is the most challenging one, so it’s best to make a gallery there and some content different compared to the other floors – Oncuoglu says and adds that the factor of the climate and the climate area in which the building is being raised is also very important.

– The climate determines the process of the construction of a shopping center. International presence is also an important item. The best example is Russia, where, before the sanctions, all world brands operated, and now we can see that they have withdrawn from that market. We always advise our clients to develop flexible spaces in order to be able to follow the changes in the market, introduce new ideas, or develop event spaces within them.

Talking about the influence of the coronavirus on the restaurant market, Abdurrahman Ozyavas of the company BigChefs points out that the biggest challenge is to find and keep the work force.

We have noticed that the generation Z does not want to work. After the pandemic, older generations too have started working less. Many restaurants struggle with the lack of work force. We are introducing robots, thereby automating the work processes. When we are developing a restaurant in some other country outside Turkey, we try to introduce local ingredients and dishes in it. We also implement local details in the design of the restaurant. After the pandemic, people want more and more to sit outside and enjoy the green areas. They are also looking for coworking spaces. They don’t want to stay at home, but they don’t want to go to a big office building either, and in that segment, we are trying to meet the needs of our users – Ozyavas concluded.

S. Maricic

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