Postgraduate Thesis on Shopping Centre Management

Written by  //  January 12, 2014  //  Posts  //  No comments

For his postgraduate thesis at the University of Hong Kong, Wing-to Hui surveyed 106 shopping centres along rapid transit lines. The author compared a series of factors and management characteristics against each centre’s management efficiency. Management efficiency was calculated by comparing human resource inputs against the achieved rental rates. For example, a shopping centre that was able to achieve strong rents with below average human resource input ranked highly. Through this approach, different techniques and strategies used in shopping centres were tested for effectiveness.

Thesis Highlights

Shopping centre operators that focused on satisfying customers, rather than their tenants, had higher management efficiency. 

  • This is interesting as its the opposite of what a lot of retail developers will tell you, but it makes sense. Sometimes you need to make decisions that are unpopular with tenants for the greater long-term good of a retail centre.

That a pure focus on high foot traffic can actually have diminishing results on management efficiency. There appears to be an optimal level for each shopping environment, beyond which performance can actually decline.

  • I was recently located in an office situated above the Hudson’s Bay Centre, which is rumoured to have the highest foot traffic of any retail concourse in Canada as a result of the connection with the Bloor-Yonge subway station. Despite the foot traffic, tenants always seemed to be turning over, presumably due to a very low sales conversion rate.

Management that focus on achieving a planned (pre-determined) optimal tenant mix had higher management efficiency.

  • Well yea, we told you so! (says retail consultants everywhere)

If you are involved in retail management or leasing, the thesis is worth a browse through.

The full thesis can be found here: Factors affecting the efficiency of human resource utilization in shopping centre management

About the Author


Reurbanist is a multi-disciplinary firm that blends land use economics with urban planning and economic development. At its core, Reurbanist believes that great urban places that are compelling and vibrant must find success at both a fiscal and social level. Stronger cities and urban destinations translate into improved job growth, municipal tax revenue, and a higher quality of life for residents.

View all posts by