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Nigeria has embraced the new age of consumerism with glee and not a little extravagance. Although much of the country’s population remains unable to draw big brand wears and expensive wines off the shelves of our new posh stores, we’re happy to drive our grocery-laden carts around the malls. In cities all over Nigeria, people are taking to the modern shopping experience with great enthusiasm.

These malls are reminiscent of an earlier golden era of a retail boom, represented by the departmental stores of the 1960s and 70s. Today’s malls aren’t any less attractive. They have their chronic shoppers and selfie-taking ‘tourists’, just as the Kingsways and UTCs had their pompous cash splashing customers and loitering visitors decades ago.

This article ranks Nigeria’s five biggest malls. Many of these have only begun to exist within the past decade. They’re symbols of the emphasis on size and variety that comes with modern consumer culture. We’ll present them in ascending order of the space they occupy and paint a mental picture of them for you, just in case you haven’t been around them yet.

  1. Novare Lekki Mall, Lagos

Novare Lekki Mall

Publicity for this mall at the time of its launch suggested that it was Lagos’s largest shopping centre. It turns out that there are a couple of others that rival it for this coveted position. Nevertheless, it’s still the standout landmark in its patch of the Lekki-Epe expressway.

The Lekki Novare mall was officially opened late in 2016, to much fanfare. You get the sense that was a really big deal when you’re told it was attended by officials of the Lagos State Government. Maybe their delight in the mall’s opening was partly the result of its likely role in firming up the commerce of what was already the state’s fastest growing corridor.

The first thing that gets your attention upon entering the mall’s premises is its spaciousness. It’s got about 1,000 parking bays, which guarantees that it won’t run out of room for vehicles anytime soon. The space is holding up quite well at the moment, even though it’s taking in cars driven by visitors from as far off as Epe.

The mall does serve a vast region. And with about 100 shops housed within it, shoppers from the vicinity are seldom in want of choice. Groceries, cosmetics, fashion, electronics and pharmaceutical stores are all available, as are banking services, sport and fitness service centres and cinemas. Whether you’re there to shop or watch movies and sporting events (the ideal thing), or you’re just wanting a sightseeing experience, you’ll find this mall interesting.

  1. Ikeja City Mall, Lagos

Ikeja City Mall.

This two-floor mall sits in the centre of Alausa, the district which hosts the Lagos State Government’s offices. The edifice spans 23,000 square meters and holds a hundred stores within it.

At the Ikeja City Mall, you’ll find retail stores for some of the world’s top fashion brands. Leading local labels also have outlets situated here. Telecoms firms have a presence, as do supermarkets, restaurants and entertainment centres. One of this mall’s attractions is the Silverbird Cinema, which is just one of a nationwide chain of movie theatres owned by the Silverbird group.

The Ikeja City Mall has at least one thing going for it- it’s accessible from many locations on the mainland. This is precisely what its administrators would want; after all, it’s the largest of its kind in the state, outside of the ‘island’ area.

  1. Silverbird Entertainment Centre, Abuja

Silverbird Entertainment Centre

The Silverbird Entertainment Centre is more than just a repeat of Silverbird’s Lagos galleria on Abuja’s soil. We could have an argument about which is the more impressive of these two structures, but it would be only fair to accord the latter its own place on the list of the country’s major shopping malls.

The entertainment centre does have its own bragging rights. It’s the third biggest retail shopping space in Nigeria, and it’s one of the most frequently visited as well. Of course, the chief lure of this centre is the Silverbird cinema. At least, it’s what the plan has always been for all of Silverbird’s commercial spaces.

But the centre’s 23,000 square meters gross leasable area also takes in well known fast food restaurants, fashion stores, luxury shops, and general lifestyle focused businesses.

  1. Ado Bayero Mall, Kano

Ado Bayero Mall

This is northern Nigeria’s first and most widely known modern shopping mall. It’s named after Alhaji Ado Bayero, Kano’s reigning monarch.

The Ado Bayero Mall is almost perfectly located. It sits just opposite the Kano Trade Fair Complex, and close to the old Kano zoo on the city’s Zoo Road. The mall is also accessible from the Zaria-Maiduguri Road, a major highway cutting through the metropolis and across the state.

The planners for this mall say it takes up more than 10 hectares of land- a lot by Nigerian standards. It has over fifty shops, many of which are occupied by retailers for international brands, and stuffed with fashion accessories, furniture and home interiors, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, electronics, telecoms and banking services, to mention a select few.

  1. Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja

Jabi Lake Mall

If you’ve ever ridden the bridge over the Jabi Lake at night, you would know what impressive sights I’m about to describe.

The eastern shore of the lake glistens with the reflection of the lights from the Jabi Lake Mall which sits by it. The view of the mall from the climbing Shehu Yar Adua way is breathtaking. But this isn’t the only nice thing to know about this shoppers’ wonderland.

This is the country’s biggest fully operational shopping centre. It’s resting on a sprawling 26,000 square meters and more of prime real estate. From whatever angle you peep at it, you see that it’s a big, imposing thing. It absolutely dominates the land.

The Jabi Lake Mall is only about three years old but has gained traction and buyers worth a decade of marketing efforts. Perhaps its aesthetics should get some praise for this. Unusually good views of the vast lake, fine entertainment areas, and a good helping of top-notch restaurants and cafes are pretty toppings for this shopping centre’s treats. The core businesses here are really the fashion stores, electronic gadget shops, supermarkets and discount retail points, and a cinema.

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This article was first published on 23rd November 2018 and updated on November 29th, 2018 at 7:57 pm


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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