World’s biggest mall a China ‘ghost town’

Story highlights

The New South China Mall in Guangdong Province is the world's largest mall

But since its opening in 2005, few tenants and customers have come to the store

"Most of it empty, with little consumer traffic and a high vacancy rate ... a 'dead mall'"

China littered with"ghost towns," empty commercial spaces built in speculative boom

They built it, but the shoppers didn’t come.

New South China Mall in Guangdong Province opened in 2005. With 5 million square feet of shopping area, the mall can accommodate 2,350 stores, making it the largest shopping center in the world in terms of leasable space – more than twice the size of Mall of America, the biggest shopping center in the United States.

At the outdoor plaza, hundreds of palm-trees blend with a replica Arc de Triomphe, a giant Egyptian sphinx, fountains and long-stretching canals with gondolas.

Only problem is, the mall is virtually deserted. Despite the bombastic design and grand plans, only a handful of stores are occupied. “Most of it empty, with little consumer traffic and a high vacancy rate,” according to a report last year by Emporis, a global building data firm. “It has been classified as a ‘dead mall.’”

Walking among shattered shops – its dusty corridors and escalators covered in soiled sheets – is a walk through a ghost mall. Rubbish piles up along the sides, paint is coming off the walls and store signs and advertisements have faded.

The mall’s indoor amusement park, staff lay half asleep over counters or kill time chatting with each other while the 1,814-foot rollercoaster roars above.