Monday, January 22, 2007


Punta Carretas Shopping

Punta Carretas Shopping is one of Montevideo's three major shopping malls. In most Spanish-speaking countries it would be a centro comercial but in Uruguay the prefered term is "shopping". It's a bright modern mall built inside a former prison. I usually feel a bit lost there.

This isn't accidental. As Douglas Rushkoff notes, "today’s retail environments are selling machines engineered to extract the most money per second from your wallet. ... The first tactic is to keep people inside the mall – the longer they stay, the more they buy. The key is to disorient them." For me, the top floor of Punta Carretas is the most confusing since I can never find the single escaltor that goes down to the main floor. (The multiple escalators ascending to the top floor are very easy to find.) I usually wander around looking for an escape.

In the US, time-pressed shoppers have responded to mall design by taking their business elsewhere, particularly to the big box retailers. (Or, Big Box). Shopping mall developers, hurt by the changes in shopping habits, are building "lifestyle centers" to compete.

In Uruguay, shopping malls still seem to be something of a novelty and a luxury. Most retail is either storefronts along city streets or stalls in the open-air ferias.

Also on retailing: Malcolm Gladwell has an interesting article on The Science of Shopping

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yeah, you are right, I feel dumb and embarrased like I don't want to look lost, but it always takes me some time to find the escalator to go down from the third floor.
If anyone reading this wants to find out a bit more about the Punta Carretas area there's a nice article here: Cheers for the article Chuck, good stuff as always!
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