A stable turnover growth has been noted in last three years – above 10% annually. There has also been a 1-2% increase in the number of customers, says Director of Valleta shopping centre Evija Svarca.
She notes that there are now less people living in the regions. This explains why the rise in the number of customers is not proportional to turnover growth. Average amount of purchases grows because buyers have a tendency to spend more. This is also partially influenced by price rise.
«Up until now we have been making cautious predictions. We’ve not been counting on major breakthroughs. And we have been following developments in the world. The last economic crisis has made people more cautious,» – says Svarca about shopping habits of Latvian residents.
Living in Riga and working in the region
She believes the most important thing is for a person to enjoy his or her work. That way the person will not care much about working in or outside of Riga. People in Latvia are often put off by the distance. But let’s think about how most people in large countries spend hours on their way to their work and consider it normal. We are too spoiled in Latvia! Most of us believe that a road trip to work that goes on for longer than 30 minutes is too long and arduous.
Purchasing power in Latvian regions
«I wouldn’t say Vidzeme has low purchasing power; Valmiera is an industrial city. With that, people there have jobs. It would be wrong to think people outside of Riga have no money. Purchasing power, however, is lower in the regions in comparison with the capital. When Valleta shopping centre was first built, its management understood that it would provide high-class, exclusive goods on sale. Valleta is in the category of medium and low prices. The shopping centre is not capable of selling high-class brand products,» – says the shopping centre’s manager.
She adds that there would not be any demand for high-class shopping centres outside of Riga. There is one shopping centre capable of handling exclusive brand products. Svarca adds that this shopping centre has managed to stake its claim in that particular sector very well.
What is happening with small shops?
People in Riga and regions wish to receive products and services of good quality for fair prices. Small shops will continue to exist. The only question is – in what form? Many small shops are family business – people invest everything they have in them. I truly doubt a single shopping centre can push small shops out of the market. Every shop has its own charm and audience to it.
«In USA, many families spend all their weekends shopping. Shopping centres in Riga also have cafes, film theatres, bowling and other entertainment options. We do not offer a wide range of entertainment – our shopping centre is not big enough for that. Even though some people do not like it, I believe shopping centres should also work in a social direction as well – they should not be restricted to places where you can buy products. Shopping centres should also be a place where people can spend time. It is a common thing historically for markets to develop as not only a place where people can trade products, but also meet other people, make new business contacts and enjoy entertainment. Shopping centres should be able to provide everything necessary for modern people. The time each individual person spends in a shopping centre is their own business,» – said Svarca.