If you speak to any Hungarian or even most ex-pats who live here on a quasi-Hungarian salary, you will hear tales of woe regarding the cost of everything and how they cannot afford anything. Well someone should tell that to the corporations who are continuing to build malls in the city and country.
Just this last week, a new “mall” opened a block and a half from our place. We can see it from our living room window. Set in the same building as the new Marriott Courtyard hotel; they call it the Europeaum since all of the six or so stores are imports. The difference being that the anchor shops are mega-stores. There is some German sounding variety store that occupies the entire lower level in addition to about one quarter of the street entrance level. Such is the same with another primary clothing store where they have a large quantity of the street level, but are extended up to the second floor.
Just for the fun of it, I went into each store. The German named store has three registers open and long lines of people waiting to slap down their cash in exchange for the goods. Observing this makes me wonder if it is the new store smell that is causing the frenzy or if the scent of the price tags is euphoric. Once the interest dies down in a few weeks, I will venture in to see for myself why those claiming being poverty stricken are on the brink of needing riot control squads on hand.
Alternatively, on the higher end of the consumer scale, Andrássy, the street of high fashion and price tags is not well at all. The feverish pitch that prompted designer shops to dot the avenue with haute couture are realizing there is not enough haute forints to keep them in business. The latest report claims that the fashion avenue is getting a little thread bare with 1/3 of all retail spaces running on empty; this is the highest vacancy rate in 8 years.