2008 went by as a really pessimistic year for the retail property sector. There was no handover of new retail properties in Budapest; moreover, several developers that were troubled in financing stopped or delayed their schemes even though their leasing activity had already started.
Developers aimed to establish new retail units at about 300 thousand m² at the beginning of 2008; but currently only around 160 thousand m² is under construction. Among the expected completions of 2009 there are Allée (45,000 m²) on the Buda side and Corvin Árium (35,000 m²) on the Pest side. The construction works of the so-called Köki-Terminál (60,000 m²) began at Kispest.
Furthermore, the foundation stone of the rivalling Neo Center (17,000 m²) was laid; still, its construction lags behind the planned pace. Launching of Mundo regional development project (65,000 m²) does not seem to be smooth either as actual construction labours may only begin in mid-summer 2009. The local government (District 14) has not yet approved the modifications of the original plans yet, namely increasing the built-in ratio of the plaza project, so the negotiations between the local government and the Polish developer Echo Investment still persist.
The market of the rural strip malls and shopping centers shows an ongoing liveliness. Stop.Shop chain and Piramis Centers owned by Immoeast continue to expand and Family Centers mushroom, too. A Stop.Shop was opened in 2008 in Nagykanizsa and further openings of this chain are scheduled for 2009 in Gödöllő, Gyöngyös, Salgótarján and Kaposvár. The latest outlet center, M3 Outlet Center opened at Polgár in May 2008. This is the first center located outside the suburbia of Budapest which awaits customers from the neighbouring countries as well.
There were several shopping center deliveries countrywide in 2008. The Agria Park of Eger, developed by WING, was opened in March and was awarded by the prestigious architectural and investment periodical Construction & Investment Journal (CiJ) with the title "Best Shopping Center Development". The Forum Debrecen shopping center (31,000 m²) opened its gates in November and will be followed by another development in the town: the foundation stone of the SCD scheme Apollo Superior (20,000 m²) was laid in September and is to be finished in 2010. In Győr, the developer Questor Group schedules the delivery of the mixed-use ETO Park (retail space comprising to 23,000 m²) for the spring of 2009. Technical completion of the park was already reached in November; however, most of the tenants asked for a delayed opening since they could not obtain the necessary bank loans on time because of the financial crisis.
According to unofficial information the construction works of Árkád in Szeged has been stopped; this scheme would be the largest development in the countryside with a GLA of 40,000 m². The segment of Budapest high-street shopping units stagnated throughout the year. New and prestigious brands continued to settle in the Andrássy út area: Roberto Cavalli started trading and also watch manufacturer Tag Heuer debuted in Hungary with its first store on the continent. From March 2009 the whole collection will be available at the opening Emporio Armani store amended by the services of the Armani café. It seems that the crisis has had little effect on the expansion of luxury brands.
The Fashion Street phases that were scheduled along the Deák Ferenc utca are completed (1,500 m²); here a restaurant, a café, a chocolate bar and a fashion store opened in the place of the former "NDK-centrum" (later turned into a Porsche showroom). Other developments in the Budapest conurbation also faced difficulties in 2008. With almost half-a-year delay the M1 Outlet & Shopping Center, located between Budaörs and Biatorbágy, opened in spring of 2008. The name and even the image of the project have been changed, and while its selection of goods reflects the product mix of outlets, the architecture is more similar to shopping centers. The development of Tópark retail units in Törökbálint (100,000 m²) continues according to previous plans so by 2010 a true bulk of supply is expected there. Regarding the Budapest retail rent fees, a slight increase of the 2007 rent fee level was recorded. The rents of the most popular downtown shopping centers reach to €100 per m² per month, while retail spaces in malls at the outskirts are let for €20 per m² per month on average. Monthly high street shopping rents in the vicinity of the Fashion Street and Váci utca comprise to €60-80 while tenants have to face a rent level of €100-120 per m² per month along the Andrássy út.