There seems to be a rapid increase in the building of shopping and entertainment Malls springing up in Lagos and major cities in Nigeria. They range from large properly constructed malls to small unregulated malls. In Lagos alone we have seen at least twelve large major malls spring up in just a few years and hundreds of smaller ones. On the Lagos Island we previously for many years just had two major malls, Silverbird Galleria and The Palms which came with cinemas and food courts, many smaller shopping outlets like Mega Plaza and Lafayette mall were also trailblazers. Now all of a sudden, everyone is building shopping malls on every little space they can find. Just take a drive along major roads like Adeniran Ogunsanya in Surulere which also houses a large Shoprite, go to Opebi and Allen Avenue in Ikeja, drive along the Lekki expressway and Admiralty Road in Lekki 1, you will be shocked to see how rapidly residential homes are being converted into every kind of mall imaginable. Some of these malls have been so haphazardly converted, that you are unsure what is behind every door unless you enter. The stairways are poorly lit and there is usually insufficient sanitary provision even where there are restaurants. In the major shopping malls I can already see the signs of a breakdown in facility maintenance, like cleanliness of the public spaces and toilets, broken toilets, Air conditioners always not working, poor security, broken floor tiles, blown light bulbs etc. The list is endless. Last year I went to a major mall to watch a film and the air conditioners in the cinema hall was not working, it was like an oven, the toilets were locked because they was no water in the mall. You can never find that happening abroad. Take a trip to the Adeniran Ogunsanya Shoprite mall and you will be shocked to note that this is a recently built mall. It is dark with endless corridors not sign posted and empty. It feels like you are in desolate dark world that you see in Sci-Fi movies. It is really a strange place. Unfortunately a lot of so called “malls” do not have planning permission and have not been constructed/converted according to any architectural plan. The main reason for these malls is purely financial and not longevity, therefore many of them shut down in a couple of years.
Shopping Malls are really modern, indoor version of traditional outdoor marketplaces where we now have lots of different shops clustered together to form a network of shops under one roof. Malls provide all sorts of convenience like time saving, safety, car parking and a calm environment that smaller shops may not be able to provide. There are a few advantages and disadvantages that need to be taken into consideration. The most noticeable advantage that Shopping Malls provide to the community is the ease of shopping for the consumers. There are usually car parking spaces available, security cameras in almost every shop to ensure that criminals are caught, moreover, there are security guards at every entrance and exits to the Mall in order to maintain a safe environment. In addition the creation of competition in one place can also helps to provide a better range of products and choices for the customers. Shopping malls are usually air-conditioned which is always beneficial from the heat and stress that you get in outdoor market places. The disadvantages are the high rents that some of the larger malls command without the attending customer traffic to buy their goods, leading to a short life span for businesses and loss in profits. Prices also tend to be inflated to take into account the rent, service charge and staff outlay. Malls also encourage people hanging around for needlessly prolonged periods. The security in large malls needs to be really good owing to the large traffic under one roof at any point in time. There can be serious implications if a mall is targeted for criminal activities.
There are lessons to be learned however from America where Mall business started and is such a part of the society there. Unfortunately due to the proliferation of malls in the US some malls in some states there, are being closed down due to lack of customers and are being turned into homes for the community after consultations with community leaders. There were too many malls in close proximity providing more or less the same goods. You can already see that this is happening in some areas here, as you may find that out of twelve shops in a small mall, six are selling clothes albeit different prices and quality, but how many shops will attract customers unless it is already known or a branded name. New areas are daily sprouting new malls and I do not foresee this unchecked growth slowing down anytime soon