Warnings of ‘Ikea effect’ on surrounding shops

THE opening of the multinational store Ikea, and its attached commercial macroárea of 300,000 square metres as envisaged in the Rabasa urban plan, will cause the closure of 30 percent of provincial trade within just two years, says the Alicante Provincial Association of Furniture Related Trade (ACOMA).

This prediction was made last week to Reuters News Agency by Victor Sanchez, President of ACOMA, when also confirming that his association had lodged a formal objection to the proposed development with Alicante’s Planning Department.

“Much is at risk here though it might sound spurious, as the nearby Murcia experience shows that the commercial development there (Ikea) resulted in many job losses” said Sr. Sanchez.

“We (people) want this type of shopping centre because the complex is so big it is self sustaining and we don’t need to leave the area” he said. However he added “the traditional trade in nearby towns will disappear” with the wider social impact that this entails.

Sr. Sanchez insisted that these large commercial areas not affect only the furniture industry but business in general, as he says has occurred in the metropolitan area of Murcia with the opening of Ikea and shopping areas near New Condomina few years ago.

“In Murcia we have the example and should learn from those mistakes,” he stressed, before adding that the city of Alicante, “has not made a study of existing shopping centres.”

In his view, this has made Alicante has become a city where little shopping is now found in the centre, unlike other towns among which he cited Elche, where this planning approach  “is more controlled and so more trade remains in the city.”

The warning is clear: Unchecked and badly planned developments, though successful in themselves, take business from an already fragile surrounding retail sector, and if Sr. Sanchez is correct the future looks uncertain for trade outlets outside Ikeas magnetic draw.

By Paul Deed


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