Post-Socialistic Shopping Malls as New Gathering Places: Case Study Belgrade
This paper explores the built environment of a shopping mall and considers the perceptions of its users, measuring the intensity of users both in open public spaces and shopping malls. This paper aims to compare the concentration of users in the selected shopping malls built in New Belgrade and open public spaces in the city centre. It considers the preferences consumers have towards shopping malls and public spaces, by determining their opinion on the (dis)advantages of the shopping malls over features of the city centre. The methodological frameworks of the research are questionnaires, surveys and a method of mapping users on social maps (via social networks). The identity of shopping malls versus public places in Belgrade is observed through technical analyses and qualitative surveys using online and on-site questionnaires, as well as the study of social media (twitter). A structured questionnaire was developed to measure customers’ shopping motivation, preferences, as well as the demographic information of respondents, questions about the identity of the shopping mall and the city centre, and the connection between them. The research also used the newly developed software application - Twitter search engine. The aim was tracking and measuring the intensity of users in the monitored territory, and testing their latest behavioural patterns. Summarizing and interpreting the collected data provided three groups of results: competitiveness of the shopping mall with open public space with the focus on the main qualities; measuring the concentration of users both in shopping malls and open public spaces, and suggestions for improvement of open public spaces.