I was informed today that one of my favorite dining spots is closing. Sbarro’s in SM City, if what I was told is accurate, will close as of today or tomorrow. They hadn’t been there that long, maybe less than 2 years? There are a lot of places selling pizza in the mall, and next door, but they had a good selection of products in addition to just pizza, and they had a great selection of slices. Plus they always seemed busy. I was really surprised and disappointed to hear this news.

Within the last year another big mall opened, SM Lanang Premier. It is on the other side of town, but it certainly competes with all the other shopping opportunities here in Davao. Abreeza, the upscale Ayala Mall, opened just the year before (or so). Add to that the new S & R, and the malls going up in nearby towns such as Tagum and Toril. There is a lot of competition for what seems to be very limited peso. Yes, there are many here that have the money, but many more that do not.

I’ve often wondered how some of the high end stores in Abreeza are making it. It seems, in any cases, they are not. I stopped in one once and asked the nice lady watching the store, with no customers, how things where going. She told me they have some “shoppers’ but not much sales. It will not surprise me at all to start seeing a lot of stores close all throughout Davao. They are going to have to decide, such as Sbarro did, which mall(s) they’ll be able to serve, if at all.

The lower end malls, such as Gaisano Ilustre and NCCC Uyanguren, seem to be fairly safe from this, as they are meeting the needs of those with limited income. It just doesn’t seem like there are enough families with middle to higher income to allow all these stores to survive.

I’m sure some will tell me that I’m wrong. They will state the fact that development continues even though there are those that have said what I’m saying for years now. Maybe they are right. I haven’t lived here that long yet. I just know what I’m seeing, and what I’m seeing right now doesn’t seem to be a good longterm outlook for many of these businesses. How long they can wait it out is really the question.

To some degree it seems the food establishments are immune to this. That’s why it’s even more of a shock to me that Sbarro’s is closing. It seems what expendable money people have here goes to food when they are at the mall. It’s OK not to buy any products, but food is almost always purchased.

As for SM Lanang Premier, there are some stores scheduled to open that have not. It looks the are waiting it out, for the crowds to pick up, before they open shop. It’s slowly filling up with new stores, but has a long way to go before it will be full. By then I expect there will be closures of some of the original stores. That mall, in particular, seems to have a long ways to go to be viable.

Sbarro still has a store in Abreeza. Why they chose that one over SM City, only they can say, but sales must have been better at Abreeza. Unfortunately I don’t go to Abreeza very often. It is far, and I don’t typically buy at the high end shops that they feature. They’ve got some nice restaurants there, but I can find things closer.

I’ll miss the SM City Sbarro’s. I just have to wonder if this is truly a harbinger of things to come.

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